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Traditional IRAs top retirement savings accounts

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More than a quarter of individual retirement accounts at year-end 2011 were traditional IRAs and nearly one in five was a Roth IRA, according to a new report.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, D.C., discloses this finding in its May 2013 Issue Brief, “Individual Retirement Account Balances, Contributions, and Rollovers, 2011.” The report is based on the EBRI IRA Database, which collect data from IRA plan administrators. For year-end 2011, the database contains information on 20.5 million accounts owned by 16.6 million people with total assets of $1.5 trillion.

The report shows that 27.1 percent of accounts in the EBRI database were “traditional” IRA accounts originating from contributions and 19.7 percent were Roth IRAs at year-end 2011. When measured by account holder—many individuals holding more than one IRA account of one type or another—the 2011 percentages rise to 32.1 percent (traditional IRA) and 23.8 percent (Roth IRA).

Traditional IRAs originating from rollovers represented 27.7 percent of all accounts in 2011. Individuals holding traditional IRA originating from rollovers were 32.2 percent of the total.

SEPs and SIMPLE plans represented an additional 6.4 percent (accounts) and 7.7 percent (individuals) of the accounts in the EBRI database.

The report adds that average IRA balances for all accounts by IRA type in 2011 were as follows:

$74,966—Traditional (originating from contributions)


$104,235—Traditional (originating from rollovers)



Average IRA balances for all individuals by IRA type in 2011 were as follows:

$78,051—Traditional (originating from contributions)


$110,918—Traditional (originating from rollovers)



As expected, average IRA balances increases with age. For individuals age 50 and older, the report yields the following results:

Ages 50-54: $54,410 (account); $66,771 (individual)

Ages 55-59: $69,386 (account); $86,572 (individual)

Ages 60-64: $92,098 (account); $111,415 (individual)

Ages 65-69: $116,065 (account); $145,575 (individual)