Economic Progress

A quarter of Americans have no retirement savings

A stack of one cent U.S. coins depicting Abraham Lincoln is shown in this photo Illustration in Encinitas, California March 26, 2015. Picture taken March 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Blake - TM3EB3Q1I5Y01

Scraping pennies. Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Economic Progress

A quarter of non-retired adult Americans have no retirement savings or pension at all. Only 36% think their savings are on track.

While financial preparedness increases with age, a new report from the US Federal Reserve finds inadequate savings are still common among those approaching retirement. Even among those over 60, 13% have made no provision for stopping work, while fewer than half (45%) think their savings are on track.

And despite tax penalties, a fair share of people have chosen to withdraw funds from their pension pots in the last year.

Image: Federal Reserve

More than a quarter of American adults consider themselves retired, with nearly half of all retirees last year giving up work before they were 62. A further quarter retired between the ages of 62 and 64.

Filling up the bank

Financial literacy among the general population is fairly low - the vast majority of adults failed to answer questions designed to test their knowledge about savings. And many people, particularly women, expressed discomfort about making investment decisions.

Image: Federal Reserve

Ethnicity also has a role to play in financial planning. Black and Hispanic people are more likely than white people to have no retirement savings, and are less likely to view their finances as on track.

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The global picture

The picture in the United States is mirrored around the world. Investing In (And For) Our Future, a new report by the World Economic Forum, has highlighted the degree to which retirees are going to outlive their savings.

In six major economies, retirement pots will run dry well before they are no longer needed: the savings gap in some cases is up to 20 years. Japanese retirees and women are the most likely to outlive their savings.

Image: Investing In (And For) Our Future, World Economic Forum

The savings shortfall has been driven to a large degree by governments coming under increasing pressure to cut back on policies that benefit older generations, and the deterioration of employer-sponsored pension plans.

Individuals have found themselves increasingly responsible for their own savings plans, but have not responded quickly or adequately enough.

With people living to an older age, taking a long-term mindset earlier on in life is crucial to bridging the divide and ensuring they can enjoy old age in comfort.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Economic ProgressAgeing and Longevity
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