Pension wealth at midlife: Comparing self-reports with provider data

Richard W. Johnson, Usha Sambamoorthi, Stephen Crystal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This paper evaluates the accuracy of estimates of pension wealth based on self-reports by comparing them to estimates based on provider data. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we found that few workers are well informed about their future pension benefits. Self-reports were often incomplete and typically varied widely from those based on information from providers. In defined benefit (DB) plans, discrepancies were greatest for workers who had limited education, earned low wages, and did not expect to retire soon. Differences in median pension wealth were smaller at the aggregate level than the individual level, because individual differences tended to offset each other when aggregated. Provider data appear better than self-reports for DB plans, but not for defined contribution (DC) plans. Where both are available, the best method of computing pension wealth may be to estimate DB wealth from provider data and to estimate DC wealth from self-reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-83
Number of pages25
JournalReview of Income and Wealth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2000


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