Male and female participants in MassMutual’s retirement savings plans had about the same among of their retirement assets in asset allocation options in the fourth quarter of 2010—24.3% for women and 24.0% for men. However, nearly all of the women’s allocation was to target-date funds, while the men had half their assets in target-date funds and half in risk-based options.

MassMutual said that this could be because women realize the need for better diversification and men are typically more aggressive investors who like to have control over their investments.

Indeed, a recent survey that MassMutual conducted found that 53.1% of women said they like to spend as little time as possible making investment decisions, compared to 35.1% of men. Further, only 25.9% of women say they are confident in making their own investment decisions, compared to 44.1% of men.

Also, women’s account balances were 40% smaller than men’s on average even though their deferral percentages trailed those of men by only 0.5 percentage points.

On a positive, note, women’s account balances gained 5.7% in the fourth quarter, slightly besting men’s 5.5% gains. In addition, the percentage of participants who stopped or decreased their deferrals during the quarter, 3.8%, was at its lowest level since the beginning of the market decline.

“MassMutual has invested significant resources in participant education and, in fact, participant visits to self-service education modules increased by 6% during the fourth quarter versus the third quarter and are up 21% for the year,” said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of MassMutual’s retirement services division and chairman and CEO of MassMutual International.

“These statistics support the fact that participants are taking more interest in managing their retirement accounts and are taking advantage of the education and savings tools available to them,” Sarsynski said. “Clearly, MassMutual’s participant education is valued and appreciated by our retirement plan participants. The decreased participant activities and increased educational usage are also indicative of overall improved confidence in the economy and individual employment outlook.”

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