Employee Benefit Research Institute

Employee Benefit Research Institute

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
Founded 1978
Type Independent research institute
  • 1100 13th St. NW, Suite 878
    Washington, D.C. 20005
Key people Dallas Salisbury (President)
Jack VanDerhei (Research Director)
Website .orgebri

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,[1] post-retirement income adequacy,[2] health coverage and the uninsured,[3] and economic security of the elderly.[4][5]

EBRI is an independent institute, representing no particular special interest or ideological perspective.[6] Its membership[7] 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 two reference books, Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs[11] and the Databook on Employee Benefits.[12] In addition to its website, it publishes a variety of electronic products, such as a blog,[13] Twitter site and fact sheets.

Policy stance

EBRI does not take policy positions and does not lobby.

Policy research

EBRI has tracked the decline of traditional "defined benefit” pensions and the growth of defined contribution (401(k)-type) retirement plans,[14][15] trends in employment-base health benefits,[16] 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,[17] and how the type of health plans offered to workers have been changing in the private sector.[18] 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.[19]

In conjunction with the Investment Company Institute (ICI),[20] EBRI created and operates the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database,[8] the largest microdatabase of its kind in the nation tracking individual 401(k) participants.[21] EBRI also tracks the growing importance of individual-account retirement plans such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs).[22]

Using its Retirement Security Projection Model, EBRI has published detailed analysis showing likely retirement income adequacy levels for Americans by age and income.[23] It has also reported likely results if deficit reduction efforts in Congress reduce or eliminate existing tax preferences for 401(k)s.[24]

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,[25] at the time a major policy proposal.


EBRI’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey,[26] 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.[27] The EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey provides national data on the growth of consumer-driven health plans and high-deductible health plans.[18][28]


Through its Education and Research Fund (ERF), EBRI operates the Choose to Save national public education and outreach campaign,[29] and the American Savings Education Council,[30] a national coalition of public- and private-sector organizations that promote saving.

As part of Choose to Save, EBRI developed the Ballpark E$timate,[31] a two-page worksheet that identifies a person’s general savings target for a comfortable retirement. It is used as the retirement calculator for federal employees on the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Ballpark E$timate website[32] and also by the U.S. Thrift Savings Plan on its website.[33]


  1. ^ “Lessons From the Private Sector–Room for Debate,” New York Times, Feb. 28, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  2. ^ “70 is not the new 65,” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 28, 2012. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2012.
  3. ^ “Employment-Based Health Coverage Is Waning,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2012
  4. ^ “Poor Old Americans,” Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2012. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2012.
  5. ^ “How Nursing Home Stays Ravage Finances,” U.S. News & World Report, June 16, 2012. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2012.
  6. ^ “EBRI turning 25,” Pensions&Investments, Aug. 13, 2003. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2012.
  7. ^ About EBRI – EBRI website. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2012.
  8. ^ a b “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. ^ Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs, 6th ed. – EBRI. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  12. ^ Databook on Employee Benefits – EBRI. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  13. ^ EBRI blog. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  14. ^ “Company Pensions Are as Passé as Gold Watches,” U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  15. ^ “ERISA at 30: The decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?” EBRI Issue Brief, May 2004.
  16. ^ “Fewer Employers Offering Health Benefits, Study Says,” The Hill, April 24, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  17. ^ “Employment-Based Health Coverage Continues Decline; Uninsured Rate Shrinks as Public Coverage Grows,” InsuranceNews.net, Sept. 20, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  18. ^ a b “Satisfaction Levels Rising for CDHPs, Slipping for Traditional Plans,” WorldatWork Newsline, Aug. 31, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  19. ^ “Start Saving Now: Retiree Health Care Costs Heading Higher,” CBS News MoneyWatch, Dec. 1, 2010. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  20. ^ ICI website. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  21. ^ "Target Date Fund Use in 401(k) Plans Increasing". Financial Advisor. Dec 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  22. ^ “EBRI: DC Balances Account for More Financial Assets Despite Their Declines,” Pensions&Investments, Sept. 26, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  23. ^ “Making Your Retirement Assets Last,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 5, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  24. ^ “Tax Reform Implications for Retirement Savings: Don’t Mess With My 401(k)!” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15, 2011. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  25. ^ “Individual Social Security Accounts: Issues in Assessing Administrative Feasibility and Costs,” EBRI Issue Brief, November 1998. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  26. ^ “Workers Saving Too Little to Retire,” Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013.
  27. ^ “EBRI: Consumers Still Confident About Health Care,” LifeHealthPro, Sept. 24, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  28. ^ “More Insured, Fewer Via Private Healthcare,” UPI, Oct. 2, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  29. ^ Choose to Save website. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  30. ^ American Savings Education Council – Choose to Save website. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  31. ^ “The Best In…Financing Your Future,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2012. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  32. ^ “Federal Ballpark E$timate,” - U.S. OPM, Retirement Information and Services. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.
  33. ^ “How Much Should I Save (Ballpark Estimate)?” - Thrift Savings Plan website. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012.

External links

  • EBRI official website