Individual Retirement Account Balances, Contributions, and Rollovers, 2011: The EBRI IRA Database

May 2013
EBRI Issue Brief #386
Paperback, 28 pp.
PDF, 1,693 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2013

Download Issue Brief PDF pdf

Executive Summary

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are a vital component of U.S. retirement savings, holding more than 25 percent of all retirement assets in the nation. A substantial and growing portion of these IRA assets originated in other tax-qualified retirement plans, such as defined benefit (pension) and 401(k) plans. The EBRI IRA Database contains data collected from various IRA plan administrators on 20.5 million accounts owned by 16.6 million unique individuals with total assets of $1.456 trillion to study this ever-growing important source of retirement assets.


  • The average IRA account balance in 2011 was $70,915, while the average IRA individual balance (all accounts from the same person combined) was $87,668. The median (mid-point) account balance was $19,619, and the median individual balance was $23,785.
  • Individuals with a traditional IRA originating from rollovers had the highest average and median balance of $110,918 and $31,944, respectively. Roth owners had the lowest average and median balance at $25,228 and $11,344.
  • Males had higher individual average and median balances than females: $114,745 and $30,704 for males, respectively, vs., $66,529 and $21,642 for females. The median balance for males reached $72,971 for those ages 70 or older, compared with $42,926 for females of that age.
  • The average individual IRA balance for individuals in the EBRI IRA Database in both 2010 and 2011 declined by 2.0 percent from 2010 to 2011. However, the average individual Roth IRA balance increased by 2.2 percent in 2011.
  • Among traditional IRA owners, 6.1 percent contributed, while 26.0 percent of those owning a Roth IRA contributed to it (13.2 percent overall). Of those individuals contributing, 47.2 percent contributed the maximum amount. Just over one-half (50.7 percent) of those contributing to a traditional IRA contributed the maximum, while 43.6 percent did so with a Roth IRA.
  • More contributions were made to Roth accounts than to traditional IRAs in the database. However, at $3,879, the average contribution to a traditional account was higher than the $3,633 average contribution to a Roth account. Yet, a higher overall aggregate amount was contributed to Roth IRAs ($3.7 billion for Roths compared with $2.3 billion for traditional accounts).
  • Roth IRAs had a higher percentage of younger individuals contribute to them than did traditional IRAs, as 23.8 percent of the Roth accounts receiving contributions were owned by individuals ages 25–34.
  • While more than 1.6 million accounts received contributions and approximately 1.1 million accounts received rollovers in 2011 in the database, almost 13 times the amount of dollars were added to IRAs through rollovers than from contributions.