The most beloved statistical study in the advisor world–namely, the retirement survey— was a veritable cottage industry in 2011, the year the first of the baby boomers began marking their milestone 65th birthday.
At year end, the results have all been tabulated, and the latest in retirement news is official: thanks to American-style optimism, U.S. boomers in 2012 will feel good about getting older, even if they can’t afford to retire.
“Americans’ trademark optimism is intact, at least in regard to retirement, despite the economic turbulence that is reportedly forcing many people to work longer and make do with less,” according to a survey from The Hartford and MIT AgeLab released Dec. 6. “In fact, many retirees found only one downside: They wish they could have done it sooner.”
A Third of Retirees Would Have Saved More
Significantly, for those who were less than positive about the next phase of their lives, dealing with medical or health issues was cited most often, at 21% for both pre-retirees and retirees. If they could change one aspect of retirement, 32% of retirees say they would have saved more money or been better prepared financially, but 13% also wish they’d paid more attention to the importance of health issues.
The Hartford/MIT AgeLab Age of Opportunity study, which measured the opinions of Americans both in and approaching retirement, found that “most retirees are pleased with their life,” and both pre-retirees and retirees have a positive attitude about retirement overall.
To wit, retirees are more likely to say “I am happier now that I am retired” (77%) than those who have yet to retire are to say “I will be happier after I retire” (64%), according to The Hartford/MIT Age Lab study. And 26% of those nearing retirement said they feel “hopeful” about retirement, while 27% of those who have recently retired say they feel “peaceful.”
Betty White Knows How to Laugh; Jack Welch Doesn’t
But perhaps just as important in the survey were the cultural signifiers: Retirees’ favorite personal theme song was “My Way,” and when asked which celebrity they’d most like to be like in retirement or are like in retirement, most said Betty White, “because she knows how to laugh.” On the low end of the celebrity scale was former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, because he “didn’t seem to know how to let go,” said Brian Murphy, executive vice president of individual life at The Hartford, at a New York media panel talk on the day of the survey’s release.