This study analyzes the relationship between household debt and the incidence of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) ownership using data from the Survey of Consumer Finance. In general, households who depend on credit card debt or consumer loans are less likely to establish an IRA than households who borrow in order to purchase real estate. For many households, establishing IRA savings appears to be a lower financial priority than other financial objectives such as credit card debt reduction or mortgage refinancing. Tradeoffs between IRA ownership and other financial objectives can reduce the effectiveness of the tax advantage of IRAs in simulating retirement savings. Keywords: saving, low income households

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