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Women more likely to join retirement plans: EBRI


Women are more likely to participate in employment-based retirement plans than their male counterparts, a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute concludes.

However, overall participation in retirement plans fell across the board last year, according to the study released earlier this month by the private Washington-based nonprofit employee benefit research organization.

The study, published in the November EBRI Issue Brief, shows that among full-time, full-year wage and salary workers between the ages of 21 and 64, 56.4% of the women participated in a retirement plan in 2005 vs. 53.7% of the men.

The gender comparison is one of many contained in the comprehensive study of employment-based retirement plan participation, which was derived from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data available. The study includes participation rates in traditional defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution plans.

Among some other findings:

  • About 58% of all working-age wage and salary employees of both genders worked for an employer or union that sponsored a retirement plan in 2005. Of those, slightly less than half--47%--participated in 2005, down from 48.5% a year earlier.

  • Participation levels tend to increase with age. More than half--56.5%--of workers between the ages of 55 and 64 participated in a retirement plan in 2005, compared to just 18.4% of those between the ages of 21 and 24.

  • Workers in the South, West and Southwest had the lowest participation levels, while those in the upper Midwest and Northeast had the highest levels. Florida was the state with the lowest overall participation rate of 38%, while Minnesota was the state with the highest overall participation rate of 56%.
The complete study is available online at no charge at