University of Michigan New York University

VRI Survey Overview

The Vanguard Research Initiative (VRI) is a collaboration of the Vanguard Group, the University of Michigan, and New York University. VRI surveys are administered via the internet to a panel of Vanguard clients to gather complementary information to Vanguard's administrative data. The panel was chosen by inviting Vanguard account holders fulfilling the following criteria:


  • Over 55 years old
  • Have a domestic address
  • No immediate record of a Vanguard annuity purchase
  • Hold between $10,000 and $5 million in assets with Vanguard
  • Have a valid email registered with Vanguard
  • Have logged on in the past six months

The sample was stratified such that each age group above 55 will be adequately represented, as well as singles. The sample is also divided between individual accounts and employer-sponsored accounts.

The initial cohort of 9,000 respondents joined the VRI in 2013 with Survey 1. A new cohort of 3,700 respondents joined the VRI in 2016 with Survey 5. The original cohort was also given Survey 5.

For information about each survey, including questionnaires and live demonstration links, please click below:


Survey Field period begins (Pilot/Production) Theme Main Content
Survey 1 June 2013
August 2013
Wealth and portfolios Demographics and employment
Income, social security, pensions, and disability benefits; Housing assets
Financial assets: investment, savings, and retirement accounts
Survey 2 October 2013
January 2014
Annuity and long-term care Demographics and pensions updates
Bequest plans
Long-term care insurance
Expectations on longevity, long-term care, annuity purchases
Hypothetical annuity products
SSQs: risk aversion, bequest motives, long-term care, and public-care aversion
Survey 3 May 2014
August 2014
Family, bequests, and transfers Demographics updates
Family inventory
Major past expenses and future expense expectations
(self and spouse, descendants and comparable other, and predecessors)
Charitable giving expectations
SSQs: risk aversion revisited (loss aversion version), bequest revisited, inter-vivos transfers
Survey 4 August 2015
October 2015
Work and transition to retirement Work history: Career and bridge jobs
Job separation
Job search
Conditional retirement expectations
SSQs: Job flexibility; preferred jobs and search for opportunities; reservation wages
Survey 5 August 2016 (pilot and production merged, new cohort) Wealth and Portfolios Demographics and employment
Income, social security, pensions, and disability benefits; Housing assets
Financial assets: investment, savings, and retirement accounts




Copyright © 2014 The Regents of the University of Michigan