Younger defined contribution participants are more invested in equities than previously observed, while middle-aged participants' allocations are shown to be more conservative. Data collected by Vanguard Group in its 2019 How America Saves survey, based on DC plans for which it is the record keeper, show that participants under 25 have, on average, 88% of their retirement assets in equities, up from 55% in 2004.
Much of the increase in equity allocations can be attributed to the greater use of automatic enrollment, particularly as those participants are put into target-date funds that favor more equity risk early in participants' careers. An overlay of the equity allocations of Vanguard's institutional target-date series show close correlations to the equity allocation of each fund's respective age group.
Vanguard observed that 48% of its client plans offered automatic enrollment and that 97% of plans that use a target-date fund as its qualified default investment alternative.