Numerous changes to the retirement industry in the past decade apparently haven’t had much effect on participation rates among married couples.
A study by the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy examined pension plan and defined contribution plan participation data from 1998 and 2009. It focused its attention on married couples as a unit and how their involvement in retirement plans has changed in that 10-year time frame.
It found that married couples participate more in pension plans than single individuals, but that participation has stayed roughly the same.
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Among all full-time workers, about two-thirds participated in a pension plan in both 1998 and 2009. About 72 percent of married men who work full time participated in a retirement plan in both years. Similarly, 72 percent of married women who work full time participated in a pension plan in 2009, an increase of about 5 percentage points from the 1998 participation level.
In about 10 percent of couples in 2009, the wife was the only one participating in a pension plan compared with about 37 percent of couples where the husband was the only one participating. The study also looked at defined contribution plans in those two years. It found that 60 percent of couples in 2009 had at least one of the spouses contributing to a DC plan. In half of those couples, the husband was the only one contributing.