Effects of Stock Market Fluctuations on the Adequacy of Retirement Wealth Accumulation

William G. GaleCori E. Uccello Eric M. Engen

WP#2004-16

Abstract

This paper examines the relation between fluctuations in the aggregate value of equities and the adequacy of households’ saving for retirement. We find that many and perhaps most households appear to be saving adequate amounts for retirement, but almost no link between stock values and the adequacy of retirement saving. Historical variation in equity values and ownership correlates poorly with historical variation in the adequacy of saving. Even a simulated 40 percent decline in stocks has little effect on the adequacy of saving. The results occur because equities are concentrated among households with significant amounts of other wealth.