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Retirement Account Statements: Paper or Electronic?

This survey of adults age 25-plus who have employer-sponsored retirement plans reveals that the majority value paper statements. 

The survey’s key findings are as follows:

Most adults with employer-sponsored retirement plans (57%) would prefer to receive paper statements in the mail at least once a year, including 20% who would prefer only mailed paper statements and 37% who would prefer both electronic statements and mailed paper statements at least once a year. 

  • Adults age 50-plus (66%), those with household incomes under $50,000 (66%), those who don’t use computers at work (68%), and Republicans (64%) are especially likely to express a preference for paper statements.

  • Among respondents who prefer to receive only paper statements:
    • 86% say they are more likely to read statements on paper; 
    • 82% say it is easier to save paper statements; and
    • 78% say it is easier to read paper statements.

Paper statements appear to be more commonly reviewed than electronic statements.

  • Over half (55%) of adults who receive paper statements say that they “always” review their paper statements, while just over one in three (36%) adults who receive electronic statements say that they “always” review their electronic statements.

Those who don’t read their statements are more likely to miss electronic notices.

  • Specifically, 44% of adults who rarely/never read electronic statements, vs. 26% of adults who rarely/never read paper statements, say they “don’t always notice” the statements.

Methodology

These findings are based on a survey of 1,228 adults age 25-plus who have an employer-sponsored retirement plan — either a 401k-type plan or a traditional pension from a current or former employer. The field period was from February 8 to 27, 2022. The survey was conducted online using the probability-based SSRS Opinion Panel and by telephone using the SSRS Omnibus. Of the 1,228 respondents, 621 completed the survey online and 607 completed it by phone. Data were weighted to represent adults 25-plus who have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. 

For more information, contact S. Kathi Brown of AARP Research at skbrown@aarp.org. Media inquiries should be directed to External Relations at media@aarp.org.

Brown, S. Kathi. Retirement Account Statements: Paper or Electronic? Washington, DC: AARP Research, May 2022. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00529.001

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