Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers


John Sabelhaus

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Despite widespread support for government policies aimed at improving workplace retirement plans, nearly half of wage and salary workers in the U.S. still lack coverage. The lack of employer-sponsored pensions or other workplace retirement saving plans has led to state-level government initiatives aimed at expanding coverage to workers whose employers do not offer such plans. Designing and implementing efforts to broaden workplace retirement plan coverage requires understanding what types of workers lack coverage, in terms of both demographic characteristics and across US states. However, available data on retirement plan coverage is limited, and developing an accurate picture of the current state of retirement plan coverage requires reconciling and benchmarking multiple data sources. This paper describes a method for estimating current workplace retirement plan coverage rates by age, race and ethnicity, education, gender, employer size, and earnings levels across U.S. states using data from the Current Population Survey, IRS Statistics of Income, and Survey of Consumer Finances.


retirement plans, employer-sponsored pensions, coverage rates

JEL Code

C83, J26, J32

Working Paper Number



This research was made possible by generous support from the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Copyright/Permission Statement

All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the authors and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2022 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.


Many thanks to David John, Gary Koenig, Joel Eskovitz, and Olivia S. Mitchell for valuable insights and comments while this research was underway.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 10 March 2022