- EBRI and its Education and Research Fund
- EBRI’s 30th Anniversary
- EBRI’s 25th Anniversary
- Honoraria for Presentations
- Letter from the President
- Use by non-members
- President’s Report
- Most Viewed
- EBRI Bibliography By Topic
- Data Book
- Facts from EBRI
- Fast Facts
- Issue Briefs
- Policy Books
- President’s Reports
- Press Releases
- Special Reports
- Benefit Bibliography
- Benefit FAQs
- Links to Other Internet Resources
- Reference Shelf
- Special Issues of Periodicals
- What’s New in Employee Benefits
FAQs About Benefits—Retirement Issues
What are the trends in U.S. retirement plans?
Since 1979, significant changes have occurred in the kind of employment-based retirement plan that workers participate in: Defined benefit plans have declined, while defined contribution plans have grown.
Figure 1 shows the percentage of all private-sector wage and salary workers in each type of retirement plan. For instance, in 2013, 33 percent of all private-sector workers participated only in a defined contribution plan (DC) and 2 percent participated only in a defined benefit (DB) pension plan. (11 percent had both a DC and a DB plan, and the residual percentage is the fraction of private-sector wage and salary workers who were NOT a participant in an employment-based retirement plan).
Including those who participated in both a DB and DC plan, 44 percent of all private-sector wage and salary workers participated in a DC plan, and 13 percent participated in a DB plan.
Defined contribution plans are individual account retirement plans whose value is based on contributions (by the worker and/or employer), and investment returns; the 401(k) is the primary example of a defined contribution plan.