When pensioners and retirees clash over how much to save
The pension system is in trouble.
The retirement savings gap between the sexes is staggering.
And the retirement savings crisis is reaching a tipping point.
Now, as the country heads into its sixth month of record-low jobless benefits, there is no clear consensus about what to do about it.
The question of what to spend our money on—whether to retire or to save for retirement—is central to what is shaping up to be a very interesting election season.
A new poll shows a significant split among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, with the majority of Americans (62%) agreeing with the statement that Americans should be saving for retirement.
While Republicans have generally favored saving for their retirement, independents have generally opposed it.
In the new poll, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they want to save.
And there are stark differences among political groups in how they are framing the retirement debate.
Democrats and independents are more divided about which retirement plans are most attractive.
Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say that their 401(k)s are the best plan for retirement, and more than three times as likely to say their IRAs are the most attractive plan.
Republicans are split on whether to stick with their traditional retirement savings plans, and Democrats are nearly twice as sure as Republicans that their retirement savings are the right plan.
Meanwhile, independents are split, with Democrats and Republicans both more likely to believe that their savings plans are best.
In other words, while many Americans are on the fence about whether to save or save, the American public is divided on how to do it.
A poll conducted last month by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that only about one-in-ten Americans believe that retirement is a better investment than saving.
It’s important to note that the Pew poll surveyed a representative sample of Americans, not all of whom have 401(K)s, IRAs, or other retirement savings.
And Pew also found that most Americans (68%) say they are willing to save, but that only 42% are willing do so for retirement savings in the near term.
So what does this tell us about the retirement crisis?
The Pew poll, conducted in February, showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans said that retirement was either too expensive or not as easy to get a handle on as it should be.
About one-third (34%) said they had no opinion on retirement saving.
And only about two-in‐ten (21%) said that saving is too expensive, while 26% said it is too easy to save and 21% said they were not sure.
In fact, only 10% of Americans thought that saving should be easy or inexpensive, while 41% said that it should not be too expensive and 24% were not certain.
While the survey showed that Americans are split over the importance of retirement saving, the poll also found some surprising findings.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed believe that most people will retire comfortably after paying down their debt, and nearly half (48%) say that the amount they owe on their home will decline over the next 20 years.
But only 36% of people surveyed say they plan to pay down their student loans in the next decade, while almost a quarter (23%) say the debt will not decrease.
And a majority of Democrats (55%) believe that they will not be able to afford retirement in the future.
While Democrats may have an advantage on saving and retirement saving in the short term, they are losing ground on other key factors as the economy improves.
Americans are also more likely today than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis to believe they will lose their jobs within the next two years.
And more than six in ten (62% of adults) now say that they expect to be laid off in the coming year.
But it’s not just about what they’re thinking about when they make their retirement decisions.
The Pew survey also found a number of other troubling trends.
Nearly seven in ten Americans say they believe that people who make a significant down payment on their homes will not get the chance to pay back their loans in their lifetime.
And while most Americans say that it is not their intention to pay off their student debt, nearly six in 10 (57%) say it is.
In short, while the economy has improved in recent months, Americans are struggling with a lot of difficult decisions about what retirement means to them.
That said, a majority (56%) say retirement is the best way to pay their student debts, and a majority—54%—of Americans say the amount that they owe is manageable.
But there is a lot that Americans don’t know about how retirement plans work.
While a majority says that retirement savings will increase, the survey found that a plurality (41%) say their retirement plans will decrease.
This is a clear shift from a survey taken in 2008, when more than half of Americans believed that retirement plans would increase.
And it may be the result of changing attitudes about retirement saving