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Social Security Administration W-2 records contain employee annual tax-deferred contributions for 1990-2003 and sufficient information to calculate tax-deferred contributions for 1984-1989. The authors use this information to compare tax-deferred contribution profiles of three cohorts of respondents in the Health and Retirement Study to determine whether younger cohorts saved relatively more at the same stage of the life cycle than had older cohorts. They find that participation in tax-deferred retirement plans increased substantially for all cohorts from 1984 to 2003, and that respondents in more recent cohorts were more likely to participate in such plans than respondents of the same ages in the earliest cohort.
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