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Participation and Contributions in Tax-deferred Retirement Accounts: Evidence from Social Security Records


  • Marjorie Honig

    (Hunter College and CUNY)

  • Irena Dushi

    (Social Security Administration)


Social Security Administration W-2 records contain employee annual tax-deferred contributions for 1990-2003 and sufficient information to calculate tax-deferred contributions for 1984-1989. We use this information to compare tax-deferred contribution profiles of three cohorts of respondents in the Health and Retirement Study to determine whether younger cohorts saved relatively more at the same stage of the life cycle than had older cohorts. We find that participation in tax-deferred retirement plans increased substantially for all cohorts from 1984 to 2003, and that respondents in more recent cohorts were more likely to participate in such plans than respondents of the same ages in the earliest cohort. Their contributions as a percent of earnings were not significantly larger than those of the earliest cohort, however. Despite the increased availability of these employer-provided plans throughout this period, participation rates and contribution amounts remained low among respondents in the lower half of the earnings distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Marjorie Honig & Irena Dushi, 2010. "Participation and Contributions in Tax-deferred Retirement Accounts: Evidence from Social Security Records," Working Papers wp219, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp219

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arthur Van Soest & Liam Delaney & Colm Harmon & Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith, 2007. "Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales," Working Papers 200714, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
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    4. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2007. "Vignettes and Self-Reports of Work Disability in the United States and the Netherlands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 461-473, March.
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    6. Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John V., 2007. "Disability and Employment: Reevaluating the Evidence in Light of Reporting Errors," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 102, pages 432-441, June.
    7. John Bound, 1991. "Self-Reported Versus Objective Measures of Health in Retirement Models," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 106-138.
    8. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2005. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Labor and Demography 0504006, EconWPA.
    9. Petri Böckerman & Pekka Ilmakunnas, 2009. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: evidence from panel data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 161-179.
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