ESOPs and Retiree Wealth: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study - CLEO Skip to main content


Questions: What impact do ESOPs have on wealth in retirement? In particular, what is the relationship between prior ESOP participation and the average wealth of worker-owners once they retire? And what effect (if any) do ESOPs have on wealth inequality among retirees?

Summary: Using data from the 2008-2018 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a large biennial survey of Americans over the age of 50, we find that retirees who, in their past work lives, ever reported participating in an ESOP have significantly greater wealth in retirement than non-ESOP retirees, even after taking into account their pre-retirement earnings and demographic characteristics.