WASHINGTON — The average 401(k) balance has gone from $67,760 atthe end of 1999 to $121,202 at the end of 2006, according to a newstudy from the Employee Benefit Research Institute and theInvestment Company Institute.


The study found that most 401(k) assets are in stock. Thepopularity of life-cycle funds, which shift investments to “lessrisky” assets as people approach retirement, continues to rise,especially among new or recent hires, according to the data. Thestudy also found that in 2006, 18% of 401(k) participants eligiblefor loans had taken one against their accounts. Most loans tendedto be small, amounting, on average, to 12% of the remaining accountbalance.


Meanwhile, the share of 401(k) accounts invested in companystock continues to shrink, the data showed. The share of 401(k)participants' investments held in their employer's stock dropped 2percentage points to 11% in 2006, continuing a steady decline thatbegan in 1999.


The EBRI/ICI tracked participants in 401(k) plans from 1999 to2006 each of whom held an account at the same employer during thattime period. In total, the project's database contains a snapshotof account information at year-end 2006 for 20 million 401(k) planparticipants.

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