Total pension fund assets grew to $7.5 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 1998 from $6.9 trillion at the end of 1997, according to the latest flow-of-funds data released by the Federal Reserve Board. That 8.7% increase in pension fund assets includes pension fund assets held by life insurance companies.
At the same time, the Federal Reserve data, which break out assets of private sector defined benefit and defined contribution plans for the first time, show the latter are continuing to take in huge sums of money, while defined benefit plans are paying out more than they are taking in. The growth in DB plans is due almost entirely to the rise in the stock market. Defined benefit plan assets and defined contribution plan assets grew to $1.8 trillion each at the end of 1997, a 20% increase from 1996.