Americans Confident About Retirement, But Reality Differs

Jul 9, 2019 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Several weeks ago Gallup released the surprising but positive news that fewer people than ever are worried about Social Security. New details show that nonretired Americans’ expectations that they will live comfortably in retirement are more positive than they have been since 2004. However, expected and actual retirement age and income sources differ, suggesting the pre-retirees might be overconfident.

The mean age that nonretirees expect to retire is 65 years old and the actual mean age that retirees report having retired is 61 years old. Both are in line with their trends since 2002, although the percentage of nonretirees who plan to retire over the age of 65 (34%) has fallen to its lowest point since 2010.

Nonretirees and those who have already retired view various retirement income sources very differently. Of the 10 retirement income sources measured in the early April poll, Social Security is by far the most relied upon among retirees, with 57% describing it as a major income source for them. Only 33% of those who have not yet retired describe it the same way.

Nonretirees are most likely to say they will rely upon a 401(k), IRA or other similar retirement savings accounts in retirement, with 47% saying it will be a major income source for them. In contrast, such retirement savings accounts are only considered a major source for 31% of retirees.

Nonretired Americans continue to believe that part-time work will be a significant income source in retirement much more so than those who have already retired (21% vs. 3%), and they are also twice as likely as retirees to expect to rely significantly on other types of savings accounts (25% vs. 12%).

Nonretirees are also more likely than those who have already retired to plan to rely on several revenue streams as at least a minor source—home equity, rent and royalties, and money from an inheritance. Retired adults may have already downsized their homes, sold their investment properties and collected any inheritance money which could account for these differences.

Find even more stats, charts, and commentary at Gallup.


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