“A Look at the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America,” and “Measured Matters: The Use of 'Big Data' in Employee Benefits”

April 2015, Vol. 36, No. 4
Paperback, 24 pp.
PDF, 2,315 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015

Download Notes PDF pdf

Executive Summary

A Look at the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America



  • This report takes a comprehensive look at the financial situation of older Americans at the end of their lives. In particular, it documents the percentage of households with a member who recently died with few or no assets. It also documents the income, debt, home-ownership rates, net home equity, and dependency on Social Security for households that experienced a recent death.

  • Significant findings include that among all those who died at ages 85 or above, 20.6 percent had no non-housing assets and 12.2 percent had no assets left. Among singles who died at or above age 85, 24.6 percent had no non-housing assets left and 16.7 percent had no assets left.

  • Data show those who died at earlier ages were generally worse off financially: 29.8 percent of households that lost a member between ages 50 and 64 had no assets left. Households with at least one member who died earlier also had significantly lower income than households with all surviving members.

  • The report shows that among singles who died at ages 85 or above, 9.1 percent had outstanding debt (other than mortgage debt) and the average debt amount for them was $6,368.

  • The report also shows that the importance of Social Security to older households cannot be overstated. For recently deceased singles, it provided at least two-thirds of their household income. Couple households above 75 with deceased members received more than 60 percent of their household income from Social Security.

Measured Matters: The Use of “Big Data” in Employee Benefits



  • This article summarizes the presentations and discussion at the Dec. 11, 2014, EBRI policy forum held in Washington, DC, on the topic “Measured Matters: The Use of ‘Big Data’ in Employee Benefits:” the use of massive amounts of data and computer-driven data analytics to determine how people behave when it comes to health and retirement plans, which programs work or do not, and how to get better results at lower cost.

  • Employers and researchers are making a major commitment to capturing and analyzing the vast amount of health and retirement data in their benefits plans.

  • The health sector is considerably farther down the road than the retirement sector in using data analytics in benefits plan design and management, but both fields are in the very early stages of using big data.

  • Many workers are already seeing the results of this trend, such as the rapidly growing use of electronic medical records and their ability to access their own health records online.