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Retirement and Older Americans

Retired CoupleOur extensive work on retirement policy covers the many ways the aging of America will trigger changes in how we work, retire, and spend federal resources.

The number of Americans age 65 and over will rise from about 13 percent in 2008 to 20 percent by 2040. The recession dealt a heavy blow to retirement accounts, leaving many older adults worried about their retirement security. Read more.

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Retirement Plan Assets (Updated 4/13) (Research Brief)
Barbara Butrica

The retirement savings of American households took a big hit when the stock market crashed in 2008. Since then, however, a good portion of these losses has been reversed. This fact sheet reports the value of assets held in retirement accounts and defined benefit plans and how they have changed since 2007-before the stock market crash and the Great Recession. It replaces "Retirement Account Balances"

Posted to Web: April 05, 2013Publication Date: April 05, 2013

The Changing Causes and Consequences of Not Working before Age 62 (Series/The Retirement Project Discussion Papers)
Barbara Butrica, Nadia Karamcheva

This study considers nonworking older adults and their channels of support before qualifying for Social Security benefits. Results show that among adults ages 55 to 61, nonearners are more likely than earners to be poor, to be concerned about not having adequate resources for retirement, and to be dissatisfied with their retirement when they do retire. However, nonearners are a heterogeneous group. A large share is poor, with low incomes and limited wealth. But a sizeable share is income-poor and asset-rich. More than for singles, this phenomenon characterizes nonworking married adults, who are generally better off than their unmarried counterparts.

Posted to Web: April 05, 2013Publication Date: December 31, 2012

Lost Generations? Wealth Building among Young Americans (Policy Briefs)
C. Eugene Steuerle, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Sisi Zhang

Despite the Great Recession and slow recovery, the American dream of working hard, saving more, and becoming wealthier than one's parents holds true for many. Unless you're under 40. Stagnant wages, diminishing job opportunities, and lost home values may be painting a vastly different future for Gen X and Gen Y. Today's political discussions often focus on preserving the wealth and benefits of older Americans and the baby boomers. Often lost in this debate is attention to younger generations whose wealth losses, or lack of long-term gains, have been even greater.

Posted to Web: March 15, 2013Publication Date: March 15, 2013

The Kids Are Not All Right: Younger Generations Fall Behind Parents' Wealth Building (Press Release)
Urban Institute

When it comes to saving, owning a home, paring down debt, and growing a retirement nest egg, those under age 40 have stagnated as their parents' generation accumulated, new research from the Urban Institute's Opportunity and Ownership Project demonstrates. Average household net worth, even with the fallout from the Great Recession, nearly doubled from 1983 to 2010, but not for those born after 1970. Their average inflation-adjusted wealth in 2010 was 7 percent below similarly aged individuals in 1983.

Posted to Web: March 15, 2013Publication Date: March 15, 2013

Getting the Facts Straight on Retirement Age (Series/The Government We Deserve)
C. Eugene Steuerle

Posted to Web: March 12, 2013Publication Date: March 12, 2013

The Two Worlds of Personal Finance: Implications for Promoting the Economic Well-Being of Low- and Moderate-Income Families (Research Report)
Robert I. Lerman, C. Eugene Steuerle

Personal finance for low- and middle-income families differs significantly from that of upper-income families, who tend to be the focus of mainstream finance. The assets of low- and middle-income families have less to do with stock and bond portfolios than they do with human capital, social insurance programs, and homeownership. Social welfare policy should be adjusted to acknowledge this reality.

These remarks were originally presented at the "The Future of Life-Cycle Saving and Investing" conference, co-sponsored by the Boston University School of Management, the Research Foundation of the CFA Institute, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on May 24, 2011. It was first published in Life-Cycle Investing: Financial Education and Consumer Protection (November 2012): 85-96 (doi: 10.2470/rf.v2012.n3.7).

Posted to Web: February 26, 2013Publication Date: February 26, 2013

Is Household Debt Growing for Older Americans? (Series/Older Americans' Economic Security)
Nadia Karamcheva

An increasing number of Americans are entering old age with outstanding debt, forcing many retirees to devote some income to servicing their debt and leaving them with less to cover daily living expenses. Using Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data, this brief reports that the share of adults ages 65 and older with outstanding debt increased from 30 to 46 percent between 1998 and 2010. The inflation-adjusted median value of debt grew 56 percent over the period and the average ratio of total household debt over total household assets more than doubled.

Posted to Web: January 31, 2013Publication Date: January 31, 2013

Automatic Enrollment, Employee Compensation, and Retirement Security (Discussion Papers)
Barbara Butrica, Nadia Karamcheva

This study uses restricted microdata from the National Compensation Survey to examine the impact of autoenrollment on employee compensation. By boosting plan participation, automatic enrollment likely increases employer costs as previously unenrolled workers receive matching retirement plan contributions. Our data shows a significant negative correlation between employer match rates and autoenrollment. We find no evidence that total costs differ between firms with and without autoenrollment or that DC costs crowd out other forms of compensation-suggesting that firms might be lowering their match rates enough to completely offset the higher costs of autoenrollment without needing to reduce other compensation costs.

Read the full report here (Leaving the UI web site)

Posted to Web: December 19, 2012Publication Date: December 10, 2012

Labor Force Statistics on Older Americans (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Richard W. Johnson, Janice Park

This data brief reports monthly labor force statistics for older Americans, a growing segment of the workforce. It reports labor force participation rates, unemployment rates, employment-to-population ratios, and the share of unemployed workers who have been out of work for more than six months. Employment outcomes did not change much in November 2012 for Americans ages 55 and older. Older workers continue to fare better than their younger counterparts, although older unemployed adults take longer to find work.

Posted to Web: December 19, 2012Publication Date: December 11, 2012

Economic Security Improves in 2011 (Research Report)
Austin Nichols, Additional Authors

U.S. household economic instability, as measured by the Economic Security Index (ESI), fell 1.3 percentage points from 2010 (20.2 percent) to 2011 (18.9 percent), the largest year-over-year decline in the last quarter century. States in the west saw decreases in measured instability, while some central states saw increases in measured instability.

Posted to Web: November 01, 2012Publication Date: November 01, 2012

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