Americans (Surprisingly) Ready For Retirement, Survey Finds

By

New York

One of the more surprising findings in a new global retirement survey is just how prepared Americans are, said Kenneth Gelman, vice president, director of market research with AXA Financial, New York.

The survey, titled “AXA Retirement Scope,” found that more than 75% of U.S. respondents are saving money for retirement and 73% say they are “prepared” for retirement.

More than 80% have a plan for where they want to live and what they want to do in retirement, and how much money they will need to reach these goals, the survey indicates.

Americans are starting to prepare for retirement in their 30s, the survey shows, and as part of this preparation, working people are saving, on average, $687 per month toward retirement. Retired people say they had saved $535 per month, on average.

These are the highest amounts of any of the 15 countries in the survey, which had a total of more than 9,200 participants.

The survey also suggests that Americans are well informed about retirement. More than 50% of working adults contribute to an employee-sponsored plan, and 90% say retirement planning is their responsibility rather than the governments or their employers.

Additionally, many seek out information, with advisors, employers, banks and insurance companies being the leading sources of this information.

Working people in the U.S. said they would like to retire at age 55 but expect to retire at 63.

There was overwhelming agreement that individual savings are the primary source of financing for retirement. Eighty-seven percent of working individuals said the source of retirement financing should be the employee through regular savings, while 85% of retirees said this.

In comparison, 60% of those who were working and 56% of retirees said the government should be the primary source for retirement financing.

Of those who have retired, 72% feel their standard of living has remained the same or has improved.

Large numbers of both workers and retirees think their retirement income will be sufficient, with 9% maintaining it will be completely sufficient, while over 50% in both groups saying it will be sufficient. Twenty-eight percent of workers and 24% of retirees believe their retirement income would be insufficient, while 10% of workers and 11% of retirees said their incomes in retirement would be completely insufficient.

U.S. respondents were asked what they think about raising the age to receive governmental Social Security benefits. Both working and retired respondents opposed postponing the payments, but opinions of retirees were more mixed. Sixty-four percent of working respondents disapproved of such an action compared with 48% of retired respondents. Twenty-one percent approved of postponing payment of government Social Security benefits compared with 35% among retired respondents.

Gelman also said only 4 in 10 U.S. respondents thought there would be major retirement reform in the next 10 years.

Respondents in the United States fell in the middle of the pack in responding to the sufficiency of their retirement income. Among those still working, the top 3 countries to answer affirmatively were the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium, while the bottom 3 responding affirmatively were France, Portugal and Japan.

Among retirees, the top 3 countries were the Netherlands, Australia and Canada. The lowest positive responses were Spain, Italy, Japan and Portugal.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, January 20, 2005. Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.