Limited Financial Knowledge Found Among Workers

Findings from the 1996 Retirement Confidence Survey

The majority of working Americans appear to have a limited amount of financial knowledge regarding issues important in planning and saving for retirement. Based on a 5 question quiz in the 1996 Retirement Confidence Survey, one-third of all workers have a high degree of knowledge (4 or 5 correct answers) regarding issues important in planning and saving for retirement. Fifty-five percent have a moderate level of knowledge (2 or 3 correct answers) and 11 percent have low knowledge levels (0 or 1 correct answers). These results closely mirror those from last year.

  • Less than half (44 percent) of workers knew that a male retiring today at age 65 can expect to live to age 80 on average.
  • Sixty-one percent of workers knew that the U.S. stock market has provided a greater return on investment over the past 20 years than U.S. government bonds.
  • A little over half (53 percent) of all workers knew that employer stock is typically a more volatile investment for employees than investing in a diversified portfolio of stocks.
  • One-half of workers knew that the probability of losing money on an investment in a mixture of stocks from different industries goes down the longer you hold on to the investment.
  • Eighty-six percent of workers knew that the average person retiring today will need 60 to 80 percent of his or her work income during retirement to maintain the same standard of living that he or she had just before retirement.