What Are the Potential Benefits of Universal Access to Retirement Savings?

December 15, 2020

Download webinar slide deck.

The Georgetown Center for Retirement Initiatives (CRI) hosted a one-hour webinar to share the findings of its new research, What Are the Potential Benefits of Universal Access to Retirement Savings? An Analysis of National Options to Expand Coverage” prepared in collaboration with Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) and supported by a grant from the Berggruen Institute’s Future of Capitalism program.

Today, an estimated 57 million private sector workers lack access to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans. This research evaluates several options for providing national universal retirement savings access if some or all employers are required to offer either a payroll deduction IRA or 401(k) plan to their workers.

The ability to close the access gap and boost savings will be affected by design features. The type of retirement savings accounts (Roth IRA and/or Roth 401(k) structure), the employers required to participate, and the default levels of employee contributions and any employer contributions over time are all factors that will drive access, savings, asset growth, and retirement income.

During this webinar, the presenters and discussants examined the range of options considered, which offers policymakers a roadmap to create solutions that work for most employers and their employees. Analyses of several payroll deduction IRA and 401(k) scenarios show that the benefits to savers, retirees, and the nation’s fiscal and economic well-being can be significant.


  • Angela Antonelli, Research Professor and Executive Director, Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy
  • Ethan Conner-Ross, Senior Vice President and Principal, Econsult Solutions, Inc.

Discussants (moderated by Angela Antonelli):

  • Courtney Eccles, Director, Illinois Secure Choice
  • David John, Senior Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute
  • Melissa Kahn, Managing Director, State Street Global Advisors
  • David Morse, Partner, K&L Gates