Information Center

Polling Data on America’s Retirement Crisis

Compiled by the Pension Rights Center

The Retirement Crisis is a Top Concern for Americans

A wide range of polls shows that the retirement crisis is all too real.  Americans are experiencing the crisis firsthand, yet policymakers and opinion leaders are paying scant attention to the problem.

Below are the results from recent polls that show the depth of national anxiety over retirement and the importance that people place on having enough income in retirement.

  • An overwhelming majority of Americans — 88% — believe that the nation is facing a retirement crisis, while 76% are concerned about their own ability to achieve a secure retirement.1
  • Lack of retirement funds and unexpected medical costs are Americans’ biggest financial worry:  More Americans are worried about not having enough money for retirement (54%) or unexpected medical costs than are worried about other financial matters, including paying for healthcare, paying their mortgage, and paying for their children’s college education.2
  • Guaranteed income is increasingly important, even to younger workers: The number of workers under 40 with a traditional pension who are willing to pay for a guaranteed retirement benefit jumped by nearly 70% in two years — from 39% in 2009 to 66% in 2011.3
  • Guaranteed income in retirement trumps having 401(k) plan: When asked to rate several factors related to creating a more secure retirement, the most popular selection was “having a guaranteed stream of income in retirement” (86 percent), outranking “having a 401(k)/403(b)/457 plan” (71 percent).4
  • Of workers with a 401(k) plan, 65% doubt that it will provide enough money for them to be able to retire when they want.5
  • Nearly half of U.S. adults say top financial goal is having enough money for retirement:  Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and older say having enough money for retirement is their top financial priority, compared to just 17 percent who feel homeownership is their top financial goal.6
  • People fear outliving their money more than death:  More than 90 percent of Baby Boomers feel the United States is facing a retirement crisis, and 61 percent of Boomers fear outliving their money in retirement more than death.7




1National Institute on Retirement Security, “Retirement Security 2017: American’s Views of the Retirement Crisis,” February 2017. 

2Gallup, “Americans’ Financial Anxieties Ease in 2017,” May 2017.

3Towers Watson, “Pensions in Transition: Retirement Plan Changes and Employer Motivations,” May 2012.

4Allianz Life Insurance Company, “Guaranteed Income in Retirement Trumps Having 401(k) Plan,” October 2011.

5Pentegra Retirement Services/Harris poll, March 2014

6National Endowment for Financial Education, “Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Say Top Financial Goal is Having Enough Money for Retirement,” April 2014.

7Allianz Life Insurance Company, “Outliving Your Money Feared More Than Death,” June 2010.

Updated March 2014
< Back

Sign up to receive updates from us:

Do you want to stay up to date on the latest retirement news and recent happenings at PRC?

Sign up to receive emails from us:

Click here >

Support the Pension Rights Center:

In today’s challenging pension environment, our work is more important than ever. Your contribution will help make it possible for the Center to continue its crucial role as a national consumer organization committed to protecting and promoting retirement security.

Donate >