In a December 2009 report, the Urban Institute tried to determine how automatic enrollment would affect employer contributions to 401(k)s. They found that companies with automatic enrollment have an average match rate that is 7 percentage points lower than companies without automatic enrollment. The authors suggest a negative relationship between auto-enrollment and match rates.

Data from the Employee Benefits Research Institute seems to contradict that, however. An advance summary from EBRI states employers who adopt automatic enrollment generally increased the employer match, and in some cases significantly.

EBRI noted two major limitations to the study published by the Urban Institute. The authors of that report "constructed an estimate for the match rate as the ratio of employer-to-employee contributions for each 401(k) plan," according to EBRI. Additionally, the data did not take into account how long auto-enrollment had been implemented in the 401(k) plan.

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