The strongest plans should be designed for the edges as well as the middle.

More than a decade of research on retirement plan participant behavior continues to highlight important trends and implications for target date fund design.


Unintended consequences of automatic enrollment

Automatically enrolled participants on average contribute 3%—unless an action is taken—far from the recommended 10% or more.


Contribution rates: Automatic enrollment lags behind Retirement


The salary effect

We saw distinct behaviors and patterns for high ($85K+), middle ($40k-$85K) and low earners (<$40K).


Withdrawal trends

For most participants, spending often increases around the point of retirement; many exit their plan soon thereafter.



About our research

A quantitative examination of actual saving and spending patterns drawn from more than 4,000 defined contribution plans with approximately 2 million participants.



TARGET DATE FUNDS. Target date funds are funds with the target date being the approximate date when investors plan to start withdrawing their money. Generally, the asset allocation of each fund will change on an annual basis with the asset allocation becoming more conservative as the fund nears the target retirement date. The principal value of the fund(s) is not guaranteed at any time, including at the target date.