DOL Plans Research Study About Retirement Strategies

The Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration has asked plan sponsors and their service provider partners for help on a major upcoming research project. 

By John Manganaro | February 26, 2016
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Hoping to assess the impact of its information collection requirements and to minimize the reporting burden related to upcoming research projects, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) is asking for the retirement planning industry’s help.

EBSA says it is soliciting comments on the usefulness of a forthcoming information collection request (ICR), which the regulator is planning to use to conduct a multi-year household survey that will investigate retirement planning and decisionmaking. Beyond looking to minimize the cost and time impact of compliance and reporting, EBSA says it also hopes this request for comment will ultimately help the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format.

The call for comments comes as the EBSA is “planning to undertake a long-term research study to develop a panel that will track U. S. households over several years in order to collect data and answer important research questions about how retirement planning strategies and decisions evolve over time.” In explaining the project, DOL says it believes “still relatively little is known about how people make planning and financial decisions before and during retirement.”

As the EBSA’s request for comment explains, a major hurdle to retirement research is the lack of data about how people make these decisions related to retirement. “Gaining insight into Americans’ decisionmaking processes and experiences will provide policymakers and the research community with valuable information that can be used to guide future policy and research,” DOL says. “This investigation will explore a set of research questions on retirement savings, investments, and drawdown behavior by conducting a study that tracks retirees and future retirees over an extended period.”

A main goal of the project will be to “combine household reports of such items as retirement account contributions and investment allocations with survey responses on planning methods and strategies and on financial advice received to perform a cross-sectional analysis, conditional on other respondent attributes.”

NEXT: More about the project’s goals