The average account balance for active 401(k) participants grew by 26 percent from 1996 to 1998, largely due to the continuing bull market in equities, according to a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute, both of Washington, D.C.

The study, "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 1998,"released Jan. 20, includes information on 7.9 million active participants in 30,102 plans holding nearly $372 billion in assets. EBRI and the ICI have reported on the behavior of 401(k) plan participants for three years and the database, the largest of its kind, now reflects 11 percent of all 401(k) plans, 22 percent of all plan participants and roughly 27 percent of 401(k) assets, according to EBRI.

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