Increasing Retirement Savings by Working Women: Understanding Gender Disparities in Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program Account Balances

Karen Holden
Karen Holden

The purpose of this study by Karen Holden and Sara Kock is to better understand the sources of observed gender disparities in Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) Program account balances.  The WDC is a supplemental tax-deferred voluntary retirement savings plan offered to individuals holding jobs covered by Wisconsin’s public pension system.

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Because women and men employees are equally likely to participate in the WDC, account balance differentials must come from different contribution levels, investment strategies, continuity of coverage, or withdrawal behavior. First, this paper reports on what administrative data reveal about the factors leading to the gender differences in WDC account balances and contributions among Wisconsin State employees. Second, the paper shares conclusions drawn from four focus groups of women WDC account holders about other factors that may influence decisions regarding program participation, contributions, and investment choices.

(Photo by Andy Manis)