Participation in and Contributions to 401(k) Pension Plans: Evidence from Plan Data
401(k) plans differ from traditional employer-sponsored pension plans in that employees are permitted to make voluntary pre-tax contributions. Hence, the sensitivity of participation and contributions to plan characteristics-notably the employer matching rate-may play a critical role in retirement saving. Using plan level data from Form 5500s filed annually with the Internal Revenue Service, I find that substantial increases occur when an employer moves from a zero to a small or moderately sized match; but that at higher match rates employee contributions fall.
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