The financial crisis has caused a significant change in the attitudes of workers who believe they are 3 to 5 years away from retirement.

Researchers at Ameriprise Financial Inc., Minneapolis (NYSE:AMP) have published figures supporting that conclusion in a summary of results from a May telephone survey of 2,007 U.S. adults ages 40 to 75.

Ameriprise also commissioned a similar survey in 2005. Ameriprise used results from the earlier survey to divide the “retirement mindscape” into 6 stages, ranging from an “imagination” stage that starts about 15 years before retirement to a “reconciliation” stage that starts about 16 years after retirement.

The near retirees in the “hesitation” stage, who are 3 to 5 years away from the year in which they hope to retire, seem to be affected more by investment market volatility than the workers in the imagination stage, the researchers report.

The researchers found, for example, that the percentage of workers in the hesitation stage who said they expect to feel happy in retirement has fallen to 82%, from 92% in 2005, and the percentage who said they have significant retirement savings has fallen to 74%, from 91%.

Workers just 2 years away from retirement seem to be about as confident as workers in that same stage were in 2005, and retirees who have been retired for 2 to 15 years seem to be happier with their finances than comparable retirees were in 2005, the researchers say.

Workers in the first and last stages of retirement seem to be significantly less happy.

Only 57% of the survey participants who are within their first year of retirement say retirement has worked out as they had planned, down from 77% in 2005, and the percentage of retirees who have been retired for 16 or more years who are enjoying retirement a great deal has fallen to 56%, from 75%.

-ab