Tenure, Pay Difference Creates Savings Gap

March 19, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - While women are saving at the same rate as men, their average 401(k) account balance was only about half of their male counterparts, apparently due to lower wages and job tenure more likely to be interrupted by family responsibilities.

The study found that the average account balance of female participants was just $43,000 versus $77,000 for men. 

While women participated at a slightly lower rate (62% versus 65%), they did have access to roughly the same number of investment options.

The new report from Fidelity, “Building Futures:  Opportunities and Challenges for Workplace Savings in America,” found most workers with 401(k) balances over $50,000 tend to keep that balance when changing jobs, with just 2-4% cashing out. 

Unfortunately, those with balances less than $10,000 cashed out nearly a third of the time (32%).

Age Weighted

Fidelity projected the ability to meet retirement needs based on current savings patterns for different age groups and found that the “typical”:

  • Pre-Retiree (over age 50) would be able to provide just 27% of total retirement income needs from defined contribution plan assets
  • Mid-Life participant (ages 35 to 50) would be able to cover 60% of his/her needs
  • Young Adult (under age 35) was on track to having 124% of retirement income needs covered

The average 401(k) account balance for investors in plans at Fidelity was $64,000 at the end of 1999.  The survey found that more than 40% of those earning less than $40,000/year were investing in their 401(k).

Fidelity compiled the report from an analysis of 1999 data for 6.2 million participants in about 7,000 defined contribution plans serviced by Fidelity Institutional Retirement Services Company.