Individual Account Retirement Plans: An Analysis of the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances

September 2012
EBRI Issue Brief #375
Paperback, 28 pp.
PDF, 1,277 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012

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Executive Summary

  • The share of American families with a member in any employment-based retirement plan from a current employer increased steadily from 38.8 percent in 1992 to 40.6 percent in 2007, before declining in 2010 to 37.9 percent.
  • Ownership of 401(k)-type plans among families participating in a retirement plan more than doubled from 31.6 percent in 1992 to 79.5 percent in 2007, and increased again in 2010 to 82.1 percent.
  • While overall retirement plan participation by families declined from 2007–2010, the percentage of family heads who were eligible for defined contribution plans and chose to participate held essentially stable at 78.2 percent in 2010.
  •  The percentage of families owning an individual retirement account (IRA) or Keogh plan declined from 30.6 percent in 2007 to 28.0 percent in 2010. In addition, the percentage of families with a retirement plan from a current employer, a previous employer’s defined contribution plan, or an IRA/Keogh declined from 66.2 percent in 2007 to 63.8 percent in 2010.
  • Rollover IRAs account for 43.2 percent of all IRA and Keogh assets, with regular IRA assets following very closely behind at 42.7 percent, while Roth IRAs account for 11.1 percent and Keoghs 3.0 percent. Among total IRA assets, rollover IRAs account for 44.5 percent of assets, regular IRAs 44.1 percent, and Roth IRAs 11.4 percent. Therefore, rollover IRAs account for a larger share of assets than regular IRAs, while the two together account for just under 90 percent of the IRA assets.
  • Defined contribution retirement plan balances accounted for 58.1 percent of families’ total financial assets in 2007, and that share grew to 61.4 percent in 2010. Defined contribution and/or IRA/Keogh balances increased their share as well, from 64.1 percent of total family financial assets in 2007 to 65.7 percent in 2010.
  • While regular IRAs account for the largest percentage of IRA ownership, rollover IRAs had a larger share of assets than regular IRAs in 2010.
  • This and other EBRI studies show that many Americans are facing the likelihood of not having sufficient income in retirement unless they increase their savings, work longer, or significantly decrease their expenditures in retirement if they hope to make ends meet.