401(K) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2007
52 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2008
Date Written: December 2008
Over the past two decades, 401(k) plans have grown to be the most widespread private-sector employer-sponsored retirement plan in the United States, and now serve as the most popular defined contribution (DC) plan, representing the largest number of participants and assets. In 2007, 48.5 million American workers were active 401(k) plan participants. By year-end 2007, 401(k) plan assets had grown to represent 17 percent of all retirement assets, with $3.0 trillion in assets. In an ongoing collaborative effort, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) collect annual data on millions of 401(k) plan participants as a means to accurately portray how these participants manage their accounts. This paper serves as an update of EBRI and ICI's ongoing research into 401(k) plan participants' activity through year-end 2007. The report is divided into four sections: The first describes the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database; the second presents a snapshot of participant account balances at year-end 2007; the third looks at participants' asset allocations, including a new analysis of 401(k) participants' use of lifecycle funds; the fourth focuses on participants' 401(k) loan activity.
As with previous EBRI/ICI updates, analysis of a consistent sample of 401(k) participants (those that have been in the same plan since 1999) is planned; this additional analysis is expected to be published early in 2009. It should be noted that the year-end 2007 401(k) data reported in this analysis, by definition, do not reflect market losses or participant account activity in 2008. The impact of the 2008 financial market performance on average 401(k) balances is strongly affected by age and tenure of the individual participant, and it would be inaccurate to make a single estimate of an average 401(k) account outcome for 2008.
Keywords: 401(k) plans, Asset allocation, Employment-based benefits, Pension plan assets, Pension plan loans, Retirement plans, Self-directed investments
JEL Classification: D31, G11, J26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation