Understanding Early Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts

Brief

Understanding Early Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts

Abstract

Less-advantaged individuals are less likely to have IRAs and 401(k)s, and those who do are more likely to withdraw savings before retirement. About 40 percent of withdrawals can be linked to adverse or investment events, including the onset of poor health, job loss, home purchases, and college expenses. Another 10 percent occur at job change for what may be reasonable expenses. Half of withdrawals can not be attributed to the events we could observe and may represent unnecessary loss of retirement savings. The results show the importance of policies that preserve retirement savings and increase savings for non-retirement events.

Research Area: 

Cross-Center Initiative

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