Working Paper

Set it and Forget it? Financing Retirement in an Age of Defaults

Abstract: Retirement savings abandonment is a rising concern connected to defined contribution systems and default enrollment. We use tax data on Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to establish that for a recent cohort, 0.4% of retirement-age individuals abandoned an aggregate of $66 million, proxied by a failure to claim over ten years after a legal requirement to do so. Analysis of state unclaimed property databases suggests that workplace defined contribution plans are abandoned at a higher rate than IRAs. Finally, regression discontinuity estimates show that certain accounts created by default enrollment are at higher risk of abandonment by passive savers.

Keywords: escheatment; defaults; retirement savings;

JEL Classification: D83; H24; H31; J32; J14; J63;

Access Documents

File(s): File format is application/pdf


Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Part of Series: Working Paper Series

Publication Date: 2022-10-19

Number: WP 2022-50