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Vanguard Examines 401(k) Behavior/Outcome Gender Paradox

“Vanguard examined gender differences in participants of defined contribution (DC) plans, finding that women exhibit better savings behaviors but trail men in outcomes. A new white paper reviewed participation, savings rates, and investments to investigate the substantial imbalance in 401(k) wealth accumulation for men and women. Despite the seemingly equalizing influences of autopilot plan design, Vanguard concludes that both gender and income play critical roles in determining savings behaviors and outcomes. Optimal savings behavior for all participants starts with the decision to save, and Vanguard data demonstrates that women lead men in plan enrollment rates. Female Vanguard participants are 14% more likely to participate than men in their workplace savings plan and, once enrolled, save at higher rates. Factoring in income, which is correlated with participation, Vanguard found that women earning less than $100,000 have participation rates that are about 20% higher than those of their male counterparts. Moreover, across all income levels, women save at rates that are between 7% and 16% higher than men’s savings rates…”

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