401(k) Investment Decisions and Social Security Reform

Cori E. Uccello

WP#2000-4

Abstract

This paper uses the 1995 Survey of Consumer Finances to show that 401(k) participants with an underlying defined benefit plan are more likely to invest in equities than are participants whose 401(k) is their primary plan, suggesting that workers with a guaranteed source of retirement income are more likely to invest their other retirement assets more aggressively. Removing this guarantee might result in more conservative investment. Therefore, using current 401(k) asset allocation behavior to project income under a Social Security individual account system with reduced guaranteed benefits could overstate returns to these accounts, thus overstating their attractiveness relative to the current system.