Defined Contribution Pension Participation and Contributions by Earnings Levels Using Administrative Data
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 2, pp. 67-76, 2011
10 Pages Posted: 12 May 2011 Last revised: 25 Apr 2015
Date Written: May 5, 2011
Many observers question how the shift from defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) retirement plans affects workers with different compensation levels. To advance the empirical basis for understanding pension outcomes, this article estimates DC plan participation and contribution rates in 2006 both by the worker's current earnings and by the annual average of real earnings over the 10-year period 1997–2006. Using earnings data from W-2 tax records linked to data from the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, we find that workers in the lower part of the earnings distribution are less likely to participate in a DC plan, and the contribution rates for those who do participate are lower than those for workers with higher earnings.
Keywords: Measurement error, Earnings levels, Private Retirement Pensions
JEL Classification: C2, J30, J32
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