The average age at which Americans expect to retire has been going up since the 1990’s, when the expectations were at the lowest ages; the outlook has changed considerably since then.
The new Gallup poll shows that Americans now expect the average retirement age to be at 67 years old. That is a considerable jump from a whopping all-time expectation of 57 years old in the early 1990’s.In 1996 that expectation rose to just 60 years old.
Not surprisingly, the change in outlook has a lot to do with a depressed economy, in contrast to the boom of the 1990’s. Americans’ retirement plans have been dealt a significant blow thanks to the recession, financial crisis, high unemployment and housing bust.
Younger workers nevertheless continue to be more optimistic than older ones, also in keeping with general demographic trends. Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey showed that people who are currently under age 40 expect to retire at age 65. Those who are 40 and over, and not yet retired, expect to retire at 68.
The expectations, however, for both the younger and older sets, are actually more pessimistic than current reality. Gallup found that the average age of retirement has held steady at around 60 since 2004. Nevertheless, the average retirement age is expected to climb in the future as potential retirees find that they do not have enough money to retire on. The same poll found that people who are not yet retired do not think they will have enough money to retire on by the time they reach retirement age.
But with a life expectancy of 78 years, American workers can still look forward to some time resting from their life’s toils.
Today, most developed countries have systems to provide pensions on retirement in old age, which are usually sponsored by employers and/or the state. Retirement with a pension is considered a right of the worker in most Western societies, and hard ideological, social, cultural and political battles have been fought over whether this is a right.
The rights issue is a deeply divisive and poignant one in light of the fact that the very idea of retirement is of recent origin, being introduced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Previously, lit might surprise readers to learn that low life expectancy and the absence of pension arrangements meant that most workers continued to work until death.