Americans may have their differences with the rest of the world on such weighty issues as war and peace or global warming. However, on the subject of retirement, much unites them, including a view that life after the working years is a time of freedom, happiness and satisfaction.
This is one finding of the 2006 “HSBC Future of Retirement Global Survey: What the World Wants & What Employers Want.” Unveiled by the London-based banking and financial services organization during an audio-web conference last month, the report solicited the opinions of about 21,000 people worldwide (many of them boomers) in 20 countries and territories across five continents, representing 62% of the world’s population. The report additionally polled 6,000 private sector employees in the same countries and territories.
Among U.S. respondents, 66% said they should bear most of the financial costs of retirement, while 16% said the federal government should be responsible. Another 9% and 6%, respectively, wanted their employer and their children/family to foot the bill.
Yet, many respondents said they believe they can rely on their families in old age even if they do not expect family members to bear most of the financial cost of supporting them in retirement.
In the U.S., only 12% expect to be able to live with their children in old age (compared to 34% globally) and 37% expect their children to care for them (52% worldwide). Ten percent of U.S. respondents expect their children to help pay living expenses (compared with 29% globally). And 8% of Americans polled expect their children to help pay medical expenses (30% globally).
“We found it surprising that two-thirds of Americans feel individuals should bear the cost of retirement, while nearly three-fourths of our friends in Saudi Arabia believe family should shoulder the cost,” said Martin Glynn, CEO of HSBC Bank. “This is certainly a shift from what we know or believe to be the case in past years [when] employers were expected to carry that responsibility.”
A sizeable majority (64%) of U.S. respondents–the largest percentage of those surveyed in advanced economies–view retirement as an opportunity to pursue a “new chapter in life.” This contrasts with opinions in transitional economies, where individuals polled largely see retirement as a time of “rest and relaxation.” Just 9% of Americans defined retirement as “a continuation of what life was.” And 3% labeled it the “beginning of the end.”
Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of San Francisco, Calif.-based AgeWave, which contributed to the survey’s development, observed that views respecting retirement among respondents in the U.S. and other advanced countries reflect these nations’ aging populations.