New EBRI IRA Database Finds Owners With Multiple IRAs Raise Average Balance by 25%

A new and unique EBRI database on individual retirement accounts (IRAs) — just released — for the first time will allow researchers to more accurately measure IRA assets and ownership across multiple data providers, and to track retirement assets as they move through different types of retirement plans.

For instance, the EBRI IRA DatabaseTM finds that when owners of more than one IRA are identified and their assets are combined, their total IRA balance is about 25 percent higher than the unaggregated account average within the database.

The press release is online here. The full report is published in the September 2010 EBRI Issue Brief, “IRA Balances and Contributions: An Overview of the EBRI IRA Database,” and is online here.

IRA Balance by Type and Gender

The EBRI IRA DatabaseTM is unique in that it can link the accounts of individuals with more than one account in the database, thus aggregating total IRA assets and giving a more realistic picture of their IRA-based retirement savings. Not only will EBRI be able to link individuals within and across data providers in the database, but in the near future it will also be able to link the data with participants in 401(k) plans, allowing retirement funds to be tracked as they are generated, rolled over, and ultimately used. The data security techniques used by data providers assure that EBRI has no ability to identify individuals, so that all privacy is assured.

“IRAs are an incredibly important piece of the retirement puzzle, since they hold the largest single share of the $13 trillion in U.S. retirement assets,” said Craig Copeland, senior research associate at EBRI and author of the study. “This new database will allow us to generate unique and extremely valuable information about how Americans are using IRAs, including rollover IRAs which hold funds that were accumulated in employment-based defined benefit and defined contribution plans, for retirement.”

The full report provides data on the four major types of IRAs, average and mean balances (including by gender), contributions and rollovers, and owners who max out on their IRA contributions.

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President and CEO, EBRI

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