We document new facts about bank and retirement account participation, based on the universe of U.S. households with a member aged 50 to 59 in administrative tax data. Financial participation is much higher than that reported in survey data, especially for low-income households. However, financial participation declines among low-income households from 2008 to 2018. Geographic variation in financial participation relates to income rather than racial composition or access to financial services. Based on instrumental variables, we estimate a large impact of access to employer retirement plans on retirement account participation for low- and middle-income households.
To learn more, explore the authors’ interactive maps on bank account participation and retirement account participation among those in the bottom quintile of the income distribution.
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