Retirement Research Centers

Program Overview

EBRI Center for Research on Defined Contribution Plans

  • This center houses the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database—the largest database in the U.S. on 401(k) plans, with individual information on more than 23 million participants from more than 60,000 plans holding more than $1.4 trillion in assets. This database tracks individuals annually, in many cases all the way back to 1996.
  • Annual updates of the database track 401(k) balances, asset allocation, and loan behavior. EBRI also provides monthly projections to update changes in average 401(k) balances, providing policymakers up-to-date information on how market fluctuations affect 401(k) participants.
  • This database also allows EBRI to provide state-of-the-art simulation results of potential policy modifications involving 401(k)-type plans. Some recent examples:
    • 401(k) accumulations at the end of participants’ working career.
    • The impact of auto-enrollment and auto-escalation of contributions in 401(k) plans.
    • The impact of target-date funds.
    • The impact of investments in company stock in 401(k) plans.

EBRI Center for Research on Retirement Readiness

  • This center houses the EBRI Retirement Security Projection Model,® which produces the EBRI Retirement Readiness Rating.™ The model was developed in 2003 to provide assessment of national retirement income prospects. It has been thoroughly updated using 2012 data and considers recent retirement plan changes as well as financial market performance and employee behavior.
  • Recent analysis shows the percentage of households “at risk” of insufficient retirement income. It also shows how much more they would have to save each year for a 50%, 70% and 90% probability of a successful retirement. Recent publications have also focused on the importance of Social Security and employer sponsored retirement plans on retirement income adequacy, the overall retirement savings shortfalls for Boomers and Gen Xers, and the impact of the 2008/9 recession on retirement readiness. This analysis also shows the additional savings needed to achieve adequate retirement income.

EBRI Center for Research on Retirement Income (EBRI CRI)

  • This center houses the EBRI IRA Database,™ which contains 14 million IRA accounts holding $732 billion in assets. The database is being expanded to track owners’ behavior over time within the accounts, including contributions, withdrawals, rollovers, and asset allocation changes. Our recent publications show account balance, rollover, and contribution activity within IRAs. Further results will include asset allocation and changes in accounts over time.
  • This center also houses the integrated EBRI defined contribution/IRA database, which allows EBRI to track individual defined contribution participants as they change jobs and/or retire and roll over their assets into IRAs. EBRI uses this information to track retirees’ decumulation behavior as a function of individual characteristics and market dynamics.

EBRI Retirement Policy Forums

Video Interviews with EBRI Staff

EBRI Staff Contact:

  • Jack VanDerhei, Ph.D.
  • EBRI Research Director
  • Tel: 202-659-0670
  • Fax: 202-775-6312
  • E-mail:

Many EBRI documents are in PDF format. If your computer does not already have a current version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print PDF files, visit to download the Reader or Reader update software free of charge.