By Chris Adams
Americans aren’t getting much better at saving for their own retirements.
And they’re falling short during a time they are living longer. It’s not a good match: People are working a little longer and living a lot longer.
“The need for retirement income is growing and the sources are not,” said Andrew Eschtruth of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (website, Twitter), which has been tracking American’s savings habits and retirement planning for years. Eschtruth is a co-author of “The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It” (Amazon). He spoke with National Press Foundation fellows exploring the state of pension systems.
The center produces a “National Retirement Risk Index” that seeks to gauge the overall ability of Americans to call it quits, work-wise. Rather than asking people whether they are set for retirement – the reality is, many people don’t know – the Boston College center calculates how many assets people have, including money in savings and the value of their homes, and calculates whether that means they’ll fall short in producing enough income in retirement to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living.
In the late 1980s, 30 percent of U.S. workers were at risk; in the 2010s, it’s been slightly more than half. The most recent measurement, 2016, was down a tick, to 50 percent.
Eschtruth then detailed a range of options at play in Washington to help alleviate this coming shortfall.
Among the options the Boston College center thinks would be helpful: shoring up the Social Security system (possibly by raising payroll taxes or increasing the retirement age), improving and strengthening 401(k) plans, eliminating the gaps in coverage, promoting home equity as a retirement asset to tap, and encouraging people to work longer.