401(K) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 1999

32 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2001

See all articles by Sarah Holden

Sarah Holden

Investment Company Institute

Jack VanDerhei

Morningstar Center for Retirement and Policy Studies


The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) have been collaborating for the past four years to collect data on participants in 401(k) plans. This effort, known as the EBRI/ICI Participant-Directed Retirement Plan Data Collection Project, has obtained data for 401(k) plan participants from certain of EBRI and ICI members serving as plan record keepers and administrators.

The EBRI/ICI database is large and representative of the 401(k) plan participant universe, as it pulls data from a variety of plan record keepers and administrators and covers a wide range of plan sizes. This report includes 1999 information on 10.3 million active participants in 32,674 plans with $573.4 billion in assets. The 1999 EBRI/ICI database accounts for 11 percent of all 401(k) plans, 26 percent of all 401(k) participants, and about 35 percent of the assets held in 401(k) plans.

Key findings include: (1) For all 401(k) participants in the 1999 EBRI/ICI database, three-quarters of plan balances are invested directly or indirectly in equity securities. (2) The average account balance (net of plan loans) for all participants was $55,502 at year-end 1999, which is 18 percent higher than the average account balance at year-end 1998. (3) Investment options offered by plan sponsors influence participants' asset allocation. (4) The asset allocation of participants' account balances varies with age. Younger participants tend to concentrate their assets in equity fund investments, while older participants invest more in fixed-income securities.

Keywords: 401(k) plans, Asset allocation, Employment-based benefits, Pension plan assets, Pension plan loans, Pension plan participation, Retirement plans, Self-directed investments

JEL Classification: D31, J26, J32

Suggested Citation

Holden, Sarah and VanDerhei, Jack, 401(K) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=262172

Sarah Holden

Investment Company Institute ( email )

1401 H Street, NW
Research Department
Washington, DC 20005
United States
(202) 326-5915 (Phone)

Jack VanDerhei (Contact Author)

Morningstar Center for Retirement and Policy Studies ( email )

22 W Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602
United States

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