This report is based on data from the
Federal Reserve Board's triennial Survey of Consumer Finances
(SCF), which provides the most comprehensive data available on
the wealth of American households. The most recent SCF data are
for 1998, and this report tracks information from the 1992, 1995,
and 1998 surveys.
- The percentage of families with a
participant in a pension plan from a current job
increased from 38.8 percent to 41.0 percent over this
six-year period. If one focuses exclusively on those
families with a worker and in which the head is under age
65, the percentage for 1998 increases to 56.8 percent.
- The previously documented trend
toward defined contribution plans was confirmed and the
significance of 401(k)-type plans for those families
participating in a pension plan more than doubled, from
31.6 percent in 1992 to 64.3 percent in 1998.
- The percentage of family heads
eligible to participate in a defined contribution plan
who did so increased from 73.8 percent in 1995 to 77.3
percent in 1998. Of those families choosing not to
participate in a defined contribution plan, 40.3 percent
were already participating in a defined benefit plan.
- Overall, “personal account
plans” represented nearly one-half (49.5 percent) of
all the financial assets for those families with either a
defined contribution plan account, IRA, or Keogh, in
1998. This was a significant increase from 43.6 percent
in 1992. The average total account balance in personal
account plans for families with a plan in 1998 was
$78,417, an increase of 54 percent in real terms over the
1992 balance of $50,914 (expressed in 1998 dollars).
- For families participating in a
defined contribution plan, IRA, or Keogh in 1998, 52
percent of the overall average was attributed to
IRA/Keogh balances (43 percent from IRAs alone), and 44
percent of the average was from account balances in
defined contribution plans with the current employer.
- There is a marked tendency for
lower-income families to have larger percentages of their
total personal account plan retirement portfolio in IRAs,
although this trend appears to be fading with time.
- The impact of rollovers on the
average total account balance for all individual account
balances appears to be quite large: $152,451 for those
with at least one rollover, versus $78,471 for all
families participating in at least one personal account
plan, regardless of whether they have had a rollover. The
vast majority of the rollovers would appear to be going
to IRAs, as opposed to a defined contribution plan with a