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Do Low-Income Workers Benefit from 401(k) Plans?

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Publication Date: September 2011

Publisher(s): Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Author(s): Eric Toder; Karen E. Smith

Series: WP#2011-14

Special Collection:

Topic: Economics (Consumers and consumption)
Labor (Labor conditions, wages, salaries, and benefits)

Keywords: fringe benefits; retirement; wages; low-income

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Economists frequently assume that employees “pay for” employer-provided fringe benefits, such as contributions to retirement plans, in the form of reduced wages. Because low-income employees receive little tax benefit from saving in qualified retirement plans, however, and may prefer immediate consumption to additional retirement accruals, they may not be willing to accept a one dollar reduction in their wage in return for an additional dollar contributed to their 401(k) plan, while high income workers may be willing to give up more than a dollar in wages to get the tax benefit...