A national survey of 401(k) plan participants reported that they expect 6% returns from the stock market investments in the near term. The survey of 500 adults was conducted in November 2001 for The Vanguard Group.

Though this was the first national survey to report single-digit return expectations, they remain optimistic. Long term, participants believe stocks will provide a median return of 15% over the next 20 years. However, the survey results conceal somewhat just how wide ranging 401(k) plan participants’ expectations are. Just over half anticipate long-term annual gains of 10% for stocks; nearly 25% expect annual gains of between 30% and 100%, and the rest can’t come up with any estimate at all.

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