Why Did Male Pension Coverage Decline in the 1980s?
This analysis of 1979 and 1988 May Current Population Survey data suggests explanations for why male pension coverage declined during the 1980s, and why the decline was particularly pronounced among young workers. During the 1980s, employment shifted toward jobs with lower pension coverage, and this shift was more pronounced among young workers than among older workers. More important than the reduction in the percentage of workers offered pensions, however, was reduced participation in pension plans. One factor contributing importantly to declining participation rates was the growing share of pensions that were 401 (k) plans; under such plans, participation is more voluntary than it is under other plans, and young workers are more likely than older workers to decline to participate.
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