Polling Data on America's Retirement Crisis
The Retirement Crisis is a Top Concern for Americans
A wide range of polls shows that the retirement crisis is all too real. Americans are experiencing the crisis firsthand, yet policymakers and opinion leaders are paying scant attention to the problem.
Below are the results from recent polls that show the depth of national anxiety over retirement and the importance that people place on having enough income in retirement.
- Lack of retirement funds is Americans' biggest financial worry: More Americans are worried about not having enough money for retirement (59%) than are worried about seven other financial matters, including paying for healthcare, paying their mortgage, and paying for their children’s college education.1
- An overwhelming majority of Americans are anxious about their retirement prospects: Some 85% are concerned that current economic conditions are impacting their ability to achieve a secure retirement, with more than half (55%) of Americans very concerned.2
- Guaranteed income is increasingly important, even to younger workers: The number of workers under 40 with a traditional pension who are willing to pay for a guaranteed retirement benefit jumped by nearly 70% in two years -- from 39% in 2009 to 66% in 2011.3
- Guaranteed income in retirement trumps having 401(k) plan: When asked to rate several factors related to creating a more secure retirement, the most popular selection was “having a guaranteed stream of income in retirement” (86 percent), outranking “having a 401(k)/403(b)/457 plan” (71 percent).4
- Of workers with a 401(k) plan, 65% doubt that it will provide enough money for them to be able to retire when they want.5
- Nearly half of U.S. adults say top financial goal is having enough money for retirement: Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and older say having enough money for retirement is their top financial priority, compared to just 17 percent who feel homeownership is their top financial goal.6
- People fear outliving their money more than death: More than 90 percent of Baby Boomers feel the United States is facing a retirement crisis, and 61 percent of Boomers fear outliving their money in retirement more than death.7
1Gallup, “Retirement Remains Americans' Top Financial Worry,” April 2014.
2National Institute for Retirement Security, “Pensions and Retirement Security 2013: A Roadmap for Policymakers,” February 2013.
3Towers Watson, "Pensions in Transition: Retirement Plan Changes and Employer Motivations," May 2012.
4Allianz Life Insurance Company, “Guaranteed Income in Retirement Trumps Having 401(k) Plan,” October 2011.
5Pentegra Retirement Services/Harris poll, March 2014
6National Endowment for Financial Education, “Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Say Top Financial Goal is Having Enough Money for Retirement,” August 2011.
7Allianz Life Insurance Company, “Outliving Your Money Feared More Than Death,” June 2010.
Updated March 2014
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Did You Know?
A joint-and-survivor annuity is an annuity that pays a monthly benefit over the lives of the participant and his or her surviving spouse. This is the default form of benefit for married participants in most defined benefit pension plans. Because it lasts for the life of both the worker and the spouse, a joint-and-survivor annuity typically results in a lower monthly benefit payment than a single-life annuity.