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.
- 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.1
- An overwhelming majority of Americans are anxious about their retirement prospects: Some 84% are concerned that current economic conditions are impacting their ability to achieve a secure retirement, with more than half (54%) of Americans very concerned.2
- Lack of retirement funds is Americans' biggest financial worry: More Americans are worried about not having enough money for retirement (66%) than are worried about seven other financial matters, including paying for healthcare, paying a mortgage, and for their children’s college education.3
- 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.4
- 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).5
- 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 2011.6
1Allianz Life Insurance Company, “Outliving Your Money Feared More Than Death,” June 2010.
2National Institute for Retirement Security, “Pensions and Retirement Security 2011: A Roadmap for Policymakers,” March 2011.
3Gallup, “Lack of Retirement Funds Is Americans' Biggest Financial Worry,” June 2011.
4National Endowment for Financial Education, “Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Say Top Financial Goal is Having Enough Money for Retirement,” August 2011.
5Allianz Life Insurance Company, “Guaranteed Income in Retirement Trumps Having 401(k) Plan,” October 2011.
6Towers Watson, "Pensions in Transition: Retirement Plan Changes and Employer Motivations," May 2012.
Looking for help with your retirement plan?
If you have a problem with your retirement plan, free help may be available from the U.S. Administration on Aging's network of Pension Counseling and Information Projects. Find help now.
PensionHelp America connects people who need help with their pension, 401(k), and other retirement plans with the pension counseling projects, legal services providers, and government agencies that can help answer their questions. Visit www.pensionhelp.org.
Retirement USA is a national initiative that is working for a new retirement system that, along with Social Security, will provide universal, secure, and adequate income for future retirees. Visit the website.
Did You Know?
A 401(k) plan is a retirement savings plan in which the benefit is based on contributions to an individual account and the investment return on those contributions. Typically, employees make contributions to the plan and, in many cases, employers match the employees' contributions. These plans are called defined contribution plans. In most 401(k) and other retirement savings plans, the employee is responsible for choosing among the investments offered by the plan. Other types of retirement savings plans are 403(b) and 457 plans.