Estimating Pension Coverage Using Different Data Sets

Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher

IB#51

Introduction

Employer-provided pensions are an essential piece of the U.S. retirement income system. Calculating the percent of individuals covered by and participating in such plans as well as analyzing the changing nature of those plans is becoming an increasingly important exercise. A variety of data sets are available to estimate pension coverage and participation. Since deciding which data set to use is often not obvious, this Issue in Brief will examine five of them: the U.S. Department of Labor Form 5500 series, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), and the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). The brief will describe the strengths and limitations of each data set and compare pension participation rates derived from each set…