Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Matthew Magilke

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2017 Ramon Gomez


Over the past three decades, employer-sponsored 401(k) plans have grown in popularity as they have proved to be a valuable benefit employers can provide to employees and tax-deductible expense that employers can easily account for on their books. However, a major concern around these plans is that they have come to take the place of traditional pension plans offered by employers, forcing employees to assume full responsibility for their retirement savings. This paper evaluates the overall effectiveness of 401(k)s at the top 50 companies in the Fortune 100, examining participation rates, account balances, and employer contributions. It concludes that employees that have 401(k)s at these 50 companies fare much better than the average American with regard to retirement savings. Nonetheless, the substitution of traditional pensions with 401(k) plans by companies in the United States is problematic. Employees, which previously could rely on a company pension in retirement, are unintentionally delaying retirement due to a lack of savings. Furthermore, a growing number of workers without retirement savings will certainly put a strain on Social Security funds in the coming decades.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.