The percentage of U.S. workers enrolled in employer-based retirement plans has declined over the past couple decades and "retirement inequality" has worsened since 401(k) plans were introduced in the 1980s.

Those were the big takeaways of a study by the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute that explored the impact of defined contributions plans – which were never meant to replace Social Security or defined benefit pension plans – on retirement savings.

The rise of the 401(k), EPI said, created new disparities between the wealthy and those who earn less. EPI's "Retirement Inequality Chartbook" offers dozens of charts that look at retirement preparedness and outcomes by income, race and ethnicity, education, gender and marital status.

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