Is the average 401(k) participant worried about global warming? Learn how concern for the environment affects (or doesn't affect) the purchase decisions and behavior of this segment of investors.
Employees that participate in a 401(k) or other defined contribution plan represent a cross-section of ages, occupations and other demographic segments. As such, their attitudes regarding the concept of being "green" should arguably be representative of mainstream America. So how concerned about the environment is the average 401(k) plan participant?
In recent research with 401(k) and other defined contribution participants conducted by Spectrem Group within the last few months, it was found that 11 percent of plan participants are recycling more than in the past. While it is unclear how much they recycled in prior years, only a small percentage compared to the amount of media attention aimed at this particular issue. It could, however, be argued that this is a large percentage considering less than a decade ago, very few individuals even understood global warming or the related concepts.
An almost equal amount of concern was placed on energy consumption. Sixteen percent of plan participants indicated that they constantly monitor their energy consumption such as heat and power bills in an attempt to be more energy efficient. Another 6 percent indicate that they are doing things to be more energy conscious such as buying better windows. These plan participants may be monitoring their carbon footprint... or they may just be cheap.
More than twenty percent (22 percent) of plan participants do plan on purchasing an automobile that is more energy efficient. Despite the fact that many of these cars are higher-priced than some of their gas-guzzling peers, a fair percentage of participants must be willing to pay the higher price. Alternatively, These same participants[ants may also be trying to save on the fuel costs in the future.
While younger participants responded more favorably in almost every category, the overall conclusion is that the "green" movement has not become a driving force among defined contribution plan participants. It does provide an opportunity for education. Employers that are interested in this particular issue might find that their employees are open to more information about green initiatives.
Whether a participant is "green" or "cheap" ...learning more about saving energy and reducing costs might be a positive discussion within the workforce.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.