Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey,

The Gap Between Expected and Actual Retirement: Evidence From Longitudinal Data

November 2014, Vol. 35, No. 11
Paperback, 24 pp.
PDF, 1,153 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2014

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Executive Summary

Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey



  • Three-quarters of workers state that the benefits package an employer offers prospective workers is extremely (32 percent) or very (44 percent) important in their decision to accept or reject a job.
  • Nevertheless, 34 percent are only somewhat satisfied with the benefits offered by their current employer, and 22 percent are not satisfied.
  • Eighty-six percent of workers report that employment-based health insurance is extremely or very important, far more than for any other work place benefit.
  • Workers identify lower cost (compared with purchasing benefits on their own) and choice as strong advantages of voluntary benefits. However, they are split with respect to their comfort in having their employer choose their benefits provider, and think the possibility that they may have to pay the full cost of any voluntary benefits is a strong or moderate disadvantage.

The Gap Between Expected and Actual Retirement: Evidence From Longitudinal Data



  • The 2008 economic recession sharply increased the gap between expected and actual retirement. Pre-September 2008, before the investment markets crashed, 83.9 percent of workers retired either earlier or no later than three years after their expected retirement—compared with only 59.3 percent who did so post-September 2008.
  • Longitudinal findings (comparing same cohort at different points in time) show that more people (35.9 percent) actually retired after 65 than expected (18.9 percent), and among those who expected to retire after 65, more than half (56.6 percent) did so. It also shows that 38.0 percent retired before they planned, 48.0 percent retired after they planned, and 14.0 percent retired the year they planned.
  • Longitudinal data also show that people who have a retirement plan tend to retire closer to when they planned, compared with those without a plan. It also found that the gap between expected and actual retirement is generally very small between those with defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans.