Pew StocksMy readers are very smart so most of you won't be surprised to hear that wealthy people own most of the stocks. The Pew Research Center has just published a new study with all of the details. (see table on the right) respondents were asked....

“Do you have any money invested in the stock market – including retirement accounts like IRAs or 401ks – or not?”

Only 45% of Americans said yes to that question. I am concerned because the data is self reported and I wonder if some people may not understand that their 401(k) has mutual funds or index funds that contain stocks. Everyone puts money into their 401(k) - right?

Well, the short answer appears to be NO!

Just 40.4 percent of employees utilized a 401(k) or pension in 2008, down from 41.5 percent in 2007, according to a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

I know the data is a little old but, it confirms the numbers reported by Pew. It appears that at any given time only half of all employees have a 401(k) they can put money into.

The uneducated, low income and minorities are all less likely to have money in stocks. The dramatic stock market returns in the last 5 years has done little to help these groups.

Should there be a program that educates more citizens so they know the value of investing in the stock market? Would good investment skills lower the burden on the retirement systems like Social Security or Medicare? What would help improve this situation?