Employee Benefit Research Institute

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Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
TypeIndependent research institute
  • 1100 13th St. NW, Suite 878
    Washington, D.C. 20005
Key people
Lori Lucas (President)
Jack VanDerhei (Research Director)
Revenue: $3,988,053
Expenses: $4,312,300
(FYE December 2015)[1]

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute based in Washington, DC, that produces original research on health, savings, retirement, and economic security issues, including 401(k) and retirement plan coverage data,[2] post-retirement income adequacy,[3] health coverage and the uninsured,[4] and economic security of the elderly.[5][6]

EBRI is an independent institute, representing no particular special interest or ideological perspective.[7] Its membership includes a broad range of benefit-related organizations that often have differing policy goals.

EBRI maintains the largest 401(k) microdatabase in the nation that tracks individual 401(k) participant investment activity.[8] EBRI researchers have been frequently asked to testify about their research before Congress on a variety of retirement, health, savings, and economic security issues.[9]


EBRI was founded in 1978 by a group of benefits-related companies following enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the major federal law governing private-sector benefits. It is based on three principles: That employee benefit plans serve an essential function in the United States economy by providing citizens with opportunities to achieve financial security; an ongoing need exists for objective, unbiased information regarding the employee benefits system; and that its members’ common business interests will be furthered by having the Institute develop and disseminate such information.[10]


EBRI’s two monthly research periodicals are the EBRI Issue Brief and EBRI Notes. It also publishes a reference book, the Databook on Employee Benefits.[11] In addition to its website, it publishes a variety of electronic products, such as a blog,[12] Twitter site and fact sheets.

Policy stance[edit]

EBRI does not take policy positions and does not lobby.

Policy research[edit]

EBRI has tracked the decline of traditional "defined benefit” pensions and the growth of defined contribution (401(k)-type) retirement plans,[13][14] trends in retirement,[15][16] trends in employment-base health benefits,[17] and conducted public opinion surveys related to retirement and health benefits.

EBRI publishes data on trends and characteristics of health insurance coverage and the uninsured,[18] and how the type of health plans offered to workers have been changing in the private sector.[19] It has also quantified the amount of money that single men, single women, and married couples will need to save to pay for out-of-pocket health care in retirement.[20]

In conjunction with the Investment Company Institute (ICI),[21] EBRI created and operates the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database,[22] the largest microdatabase of its kind in the nation tracking individual 401(k) participants.[23] EBRI also tracks the growing importance of individual-account retirement plans such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs).[24]

Using its Retirement Security Projection Model, EBRI has published detailed analysis showing likely retirement income adequacy levels for Americans by age and income.[25] It has also reported likely results if deficit reduction efforts in Congress reduce or eliminate existing tax preferences for 401(k)s.[26]

EBRI’s Social Security modeling allows it to quantify the impact of various reform proposals. Its 1998 analysis was the first in-depth look at the many administrative issues involved with adding private accounts to Social Security,[27] at the time a major policy proposal.


EBRI’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey,[28] which began in 1990, is the longest-running annual retirement survey of its kind in the nation. Its annual Health Confidence Survey asks similar questions on public attitudes on health issues.[29] The EBRI Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey provides national data on the growth of consumer-driven health plans and high-deductible health plans.[19][30][31]


Through its Education and Research Fund (ERF), EBRI operates the Choose to Save national public education and outreach campaign,[32] and the American Savings Education Council,[33] a national coalition of public- and private-sector organizations that promote saving.

As part of Choose to Save, EBRI developed the Ballpark E$timate,[34] a two-page worksheet that identifies a person’s general savings target for a comfortable retirement. It is used as the retirement calculator for federal employees on the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Ballpark E$timate website[35] and also by the U.S. Thrift Savings Plan on its website.[36]


  1. ^ "Employee Benefit Research Institute" (PDF). Foundation Center. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  2. ^ “Lessons From the Private Sector–Room for Debate,” New York Times, Feb 28, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  3. ^ “70 is not the new 65,” Chicago Tribune, Sep 28, 2012. Retrieved Oct 31, 2012.
  4. ^ “Employment-Based Health Coverage Is Waning,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012. Retrieved Oct 31, 2012
  5. ^ “Poor Old Americans,” Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2012. Retrieved Oct 31, 2012.
  6. ^ “How Nursing Home Stays Ravage Finances,” U.S. News & World Report, June 16, 2012. Retrieved Oct 31, 2012.
  7. ^ “EBRI turning 25,” Pensions&Investments, Aug 13, 2003. Retrieved Oct 31, 2012.
  8. ^ "Younger Investors Aren’t Shy About Putting Stocks Into 401(k)s". Bloomberg News. Dec 21, 2011. Retrieved Nov 2, 2012.
  9. ^ EBRI testimony – EBRI website. Retrieved Nov 2, 2012.
  10. ^ About EBRI – EBRI Website. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  11. ^ Databook on Employee Benefits – EBRI. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  12. ^ EBRI blog. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  13. ^ “Company Pensions Are as Passé as Gold Watches,” U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  14. ^ “ERISA at 30: The decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?” EBRI Issue Brief, May 2004.
  15. ^ "Retirement is making people more miserable than ever before". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  16. ^ "Will Working Longer Rescue Your Retirement?". Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  17. ^ “Fewer Employers Offering Health Benefits, Study Says,” The Hill, April 24, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  18. ^ “Employment-Based Health Coverage Continues Decline; Uninsured Rate Shrinks as Public Coverage Grows,” InsuranceNews.net, Sep 20, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  19. ^ a b “Satisfaction Levels Rising for CDHPs, Slipping for Traditional Plans,” WorldatWork Newsline, Aug 31, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  20. ^ “Start Saving Now: Retiree Health Care Costs Heading Higher,” CBS News MoneyWatch, Dec 1, 2010. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  21. ^ ICI website. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  22. ^ “Investor's Business Daily, Dec 20, 2014. Retrieved Dec 20, 2014.
  23. ^ "Target Date Fund Use in 401(k) Plans Increasing". Financial Advisor. Dec 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  24. ^ “EBRI: DC Balances Account for More Financial Assets Despite Their Declines,” Pensions&Investments, Sep 26, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  25. ^ “Making Your Retirement Assets Last,” Wall Street Journal, Sep 5, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  26. ^ “Tax Reform Implications for Retirement Savings: Don’t Mess With My 401(k)!” Wall Street Journal, Nov 15, 2011. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  27. ^ “Individual Social Security Accounts: Issues in Assessing Administrative Feasibility and Costs,” EBRI Issue Brief, November 1998. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  28. ^ “One-third have almost no retirement savings,” USAToday, April 21, 2015.
  29. ^ “EBRI: Consumers Still Confident About Health Care,” LifeHealthPro, Sep 24, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  30. ^ "MarksJarvis: Would you pick health benefits over a pay raise?". Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  31. ^ “More Insured, Fewer Via Private Healthcare,” UPI, Oct 2, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  32. ^ Choose to Save website. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  33. ^ American Savings Education Council – Choose to Save website. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  34. ^ “The Best In…Financing Your Future,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  35. ^ “Federal Ballpark E$timate,” - U.S. OPM, Retirement Information and Services. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.
  36. ^ “How Much Should I Save (Ballpark Estimate)?” - Thrift Savings Plan website. Retrieved Nov 3, 2012.

External links[edit]