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2021 Trends & Experience in Defined Contribution Plans

Changes in the retirement plan landscape

Since 1991, Alight Solutions’ Trends & Experience in Defined Contribution Plans has been the premier source for data on the plan provisions in defined contribution (DC) plans. Over the last three decades, as DC plans became the backbone of employer-sponsored retirement plans, employers have been enhancing their plans to help workers build their retirement accounts.

See the highlights below and purchase the full report for detailed insights on DC trends.

Security More workers depend on DC plans than ever before.

DC plan is the primary employer-sponsored plan

2021
92%
2001
56%
0
100

Average DC plan participation rate reported by employers

2021
82%
2001
75%
0
100

Stability Employers are encouraging more savings in the plan. 

73%

of plans have automatic enrollment 

78%

of plans with automatic enrollment have contribution escalation

61%

of plans match dollar-for-dollar, up from 13% in 1991 

Growth Plan features help workers grow and preserve their balances.

53%

of plans allow for only one loan, up from 37% in 2019

99%

of employers rate Managed Accounts as effective

77%

of plans now allow for partial distributions, up from 55% in 2011

Related Insights


Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™

Monthly and quarterly Alight Solutions 401(k) Index Reports

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index: April 2022 Observations

There were no above-normal1 days in April. However, net transfers in April were up slightly compared to March (.10% vs .09%) as investors moved money out of equities and into fixed income.

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: July 2021 Observations

July was another light month of trading in 401(k) plans, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index TM. Net trading activity in July was 0.07% of balances, a slight increase from 0.06% in June, but well below the trailing five-year average of 0.21%.