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.
- An overwhelming majority of Americans -- 86% -- believe that the nation is facing a retirement crisis, while 75% are concerned about their own ability to achieve a secure retirement.1
- 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.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
1National Institute for Retirement Security, “Retirement Security 2015: Roadmap for Policy Makers | Americans’ Views of the Retirement Crisis,” March 2015.
2Gallup, “Retirement Remains Americans' Top Financial Worry,” April 2014.
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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Each state retirement system has its own rules relating to the division of state employees' pensions in divorce proceedings. Learn the rules for each state by reading our fact sheet, State Retirement Plans and Divorce.