Income Stats for Older Americans Updated in EBRI Databook

September 9, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) has updated another chapter in its Databook on Employee Benefits.

EBRI says that Chapter 6, “Income Statistics of the Population Age 55 and Over,” of EBRI’s Databook on Employee Benefits has been updated and is currently available.

Among the updates – “Measurement of Underestimation of Income by the March Current Population Survey.” In announcing the updates, EBRI Program Director Ken McDonnell notes that there is some controversy surrounding the validity of the March Current Population Survey (CPS) data in relation to its information about pension income and total income of the older population. For example, the 2007 National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) survey reports $234.0 billion more income from private pensions than the March CPS.

The announcement notes that part of the disparity arises from NIPAs accounting of lump-sum distributions paid to younger workers as pension income. In addition, because some pension plans are administered by third parties or are paid out in lump-sum distributions and managed by another party or the retiree himself or herself (e.g., in the form of an IRA), pension income may be misreported by respondents as coming from other sources (e.g., assets, personal savings).

Nevertheless, just because March CPS data may understate pension income, it does not necessarily follow that it underestimates total income of the elderly, especially if pension income is simply misreported as originating from other sources in the March CPS, according to EBRI.

Other Updates

Also updated are tables of:

  • Poverty Status by Age
  • Real Median Income of the Older Population by Gender
  • Income Diversity Among the Population Age 65 and Over
  • Median Income of the Older Population by Age

The information is available at http://www.ebri.org/pdf/publications/books/databook/DB.Chapter%2006.pdf

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