This Issue Brief presents the findings of the 1998 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS). The survey tracks Americans' retirement planning and saving behavior and their confidence regarding various aspects of their retirement. It also categorizes workers and retirees into six distinct groups, based on their very different views on retirement, retirement planning, and saving.
The six personality types identified in the RCS are Deniers (10 percent of the population), Strugglers (9 percent), Impulsives (20 percent), Cautious Savers (21 percent), Planners (23 percent), and Retiring Savers (17 percent).
The survey shows that working Americans have become more focused on retirement; 45 percent have tried to determine how much they need to save before they retire, up from 32 percent in 1996.
Americans' growing attention to their retirement has not increased their retirement income confidence. Since 1993, the portion of working Americans who are very confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement has consistently ranged from 20 percent to 25 percent.
Sixty-three percent of Americans have begun to save for retirement. Fifty-five percent of those not saving for retirement say it is reasonably possible for them to save $20 per week (over $1,000 per year). In addition,
57 percent of workers who have begun to save say that it is reasonably possible for them to save an additional $20 per week.
The findings demonstrate the continuing need for broad-based educational efforts designed to make retirement savings a priority for individuals. The good news is the evidence that education can have a real impact at the individual level.
For the first time, the 1998 RCS examined retirement planning, saving, and attitudes across ethnic groups (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and whites). African-Americans are the least confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are less likely than whites and Asian-Americans to have saved any money for retirement. Among those saving for retirement, individuals' confidence that they are investing their retirement savings wisely does not differ among ethnic groups. Hispanic-Americans are less likely than whites and Asian-Americans to have made an attempt to determine how much money they will need to have saved by the time they retire.