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The Impact of 401(k) Plans on Retirement

  • Friedberg, Leora
  • webb, anthony

In 1993 38.9 million people were covered by a 401(k) plan, up from 7.1 million in 1983. The rapid growth of 401(k) and other defined contribution pension plans may alter retirement patterns of older workers. Previous research showed that the spread of defined benefit plans, with sharp age-related incentives first discouraging and later encouraging retirement, contributed to the early retirement trend of past decades. Defined contribution plans differ along several dimensions, especially in their smooth rate of pension wealth accrual. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to show that retirement patterns have begun to change as defined contribution plans have spread. Our estimates indicate that the financial incentives in defined benefit pensions lead people to retire almost two years earlier on average, compared to people with defined contribution plans.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt2jr5w8b9.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt2jr5w8b9
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  1. Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1992. "Three Models of Retirement: Computational Complexity versus Predictive Validity," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in the Economics of Aging, pages 21-60 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers," Working Papers 96011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1993. "Do 401(k) Contributions Crowd Out Other Persoanl Saving?," NBER Working Papers 4391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1990. "The Pension Inducement to Retire: An Option Value Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 205-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1999. "Taxing Retirement Income: Nonqualified Annuities and Distributions from Qualified Accounts," NBER Working Papers 7268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Joseph Quinn, . "New Paths to Retirement," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-10, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Olivia S. Mitchell, . "New Trends in Pension Benefit and Retirement Provisions," Pension Research Council Working Papers 2000-1, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. Randall K. Filer & Marjorie Honig, 2005. "Endogenous Pensions and Retirement Behavior," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 410, Hunter College Department of Economics.
  9. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 1998. "Personal Retirement Saving Programs and Asset Accumulation: Reconciling the Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 23-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  12. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1999. "What People Don't Know About Their Pensions and Social Security: An Analysis Using Linked Data from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David A. Wise, 1987. "Labor Compensation and the Structure of Private Pension Plans: Evidence for Contractual Versus Spot Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 1290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
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