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Retirement Plan Wealth Inequality: Measurement and Trends

Teresa Ghilarducci (), Siavash Radpour and Anthony Webb ()

No 2019-01, SCEPA working paper series. from Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School

Abstract: Using Health and Retirement Study data linked to summary plan descriptions and W-2s, this study reports trends in retirement wealth inequality of older employees 1992-2010. The study identifies and corrects methodological flaws in past research. Retirement wealth is highly unequally distributed; the top lifetime earnings quintile holds half of all retirement wealth, the bottom quintile, only 1 percent. The top earnings quintile fared better in 2010 than in 1992, whereas bottom-quintile earners fared worse. But retirement wealth inequality mainly reflects inequality within earnings quintiles, resulting from inadequate savings, not outsize accumulations. Systemic flaws reduce median retirement wealth by 84 percent.

Keywords: retirement; wealth; inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D63 J11 J26 J32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age
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Journal Article: Retirement plan wealth inequality: measurement and trends (2022) Downloads
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