Tax-deferred retirement accounts offer participants loans and withdrawals as a way to attract participants. According to new research by Vanguard, which studied seven large defined contribution plans for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2010, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to take a loan or hardship withdrawal than whites or Asians. Even though they were more likely to take advantage of these services, the fraction of savings “at risk” through loans was only slightly higher for blacks and Hispanics and, in the case of hardship withdrawals, was actually lower for blacks.

Seventeen percent of active participants accessed plan savings through either loans or hardship withdrawals in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2010. Twelve percent of active participants took one or more loans, 4 percent took one or more hardship withdrawals, and 1 percent took both.

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