Retirement Confidence in America: Getting Ready for Tomorrow

December 1994
EBRI Issue Brief #156 | Special Report SR-27
Paperback, 22 pp.
PDF, 391 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 1994

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Executive Summary

  • Most Americans are confident that they will achieve financial security in retirement. Two in three respondents to the 1994 EBRI/Greenwald Retirement Confidence Survey report being "very" or "somewhat" confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years (66 percent of workers, 66 percent of retirees). However, both groups of respondents are substantially more likely to be "somewhat" confident than "very" confident.
  • Working Americans aged 26 and over can be divided into three groups: the roughly one-fifth who are "very" confident in their financial security in retirement (21 percent), the 45 percent who say they are "somewhat" confident, and the one-third who are either "not too" confident (17 percent) or "not at all" confident (16 percent) that they will be able to live comfortably in retirement.
  • Over two in five Americans also say they are "very confident" that they will have enough money to take care of basic expenses during retirement and, for the second year in a row, confidence appears to be increasing in this area. The proportion of current workers and retirees who are "very confident" that they will be able to cover basic expenses increased roughly 10 percentage points from 1992 to 1993 and has inched up even further this year.
  • Respondents have been segmented into four groups based on their Personal Confidence and Government Confidence Index scores—Doubly Assureds, Worrieds, Self-Sufficients, and Faithfuls.
  • Current workers began saving at an earlier age. More than 6 in 10 current workers who have started saving for retirement say they started at age 30 or younger (61 percent). One-quarter say they started between age 31 and age 40 (25 percent), while 10 percent started saving after age 40. On average, current workers started saving for retirement at age 30. By comparison, retirees who saved money for retirement when working are less likely to say they started saving at age 30 or younger (28 percent). Indeed, fully one-third say they started saving in their thirties (32 percent) or after age 40 (35 percent). On average, retirees started saving for retirement at age 38.