401(k) Plans Are Still Coming Up Short

Alicia H. Munnell Annika Sundén

IB#43

Introduction

The release of the Federal Reserve’s 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a wonderful opportunity to re-assess the role that 401(k) plans are playing in the provision of retirement income. The SCF is a triennial survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. households, which collects detailed information on households’ assets, liabilities, and demographic characteristics. Because the SCF over-samples wealthy individuals, it provides the most comprehensive measure of wealth of any household survey. The 2001 survey showed that 401(k) accumulations were coming up short. The 2004 survey shows some progress but most of the problems persist…