The country's retirement savings deficit, estimated by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute at more than $4 trillion, invariably calls into question the matter of 401(k) loans and the extent of the toll that plan leakage may be having on Americans' ability to save adequately for retirement.

A recent study shows that toll may be much higher than previously thought.

A team of academics affiliated with the Pension Research Council at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business estimates that defaults on plan loans are costing retirement savers $6 billion annually, according to data published in  "Borrowing from the Future: 401(k) Plan Loans and Defaults."

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.