How Are Americans Saving for Retirement?

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Despite the rebound in home prices and new all-time nominal highs in the stock market, many Americans are looking at an unpleasant retirement, if they even make it that far; according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s latest survey on retirement confidence, the majority of workers have saved for their golden years, but the piggy bank is quite slim. Excluding the value of a primary home and any defined benefit plans, 57 percent of households say they have less than $25,000 in savings and investments, while twenty-eight percent say they have less than $1,000. Furthermore, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has warned that 53 percent of American households are at risk of not having saved enough to maintain their living standards in retirement.

Americans are still planning for retirement, but, as one would expect, how they have saved for retirement depends very heavily on age and on pre-retirement income.

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Compared to other countries’ retirement systems, that of the United States doesn’t stand up well. In a recent report, the Mercer consulting firm and the Australian Center for Financial Service, gave the United States a “C” grade, a rating considerably worse than the A received by Denmark and the B-plus given to the Netherlands’ retirement system, which combines a Social Security-like fund with a nearly universal pension system to which employers contribute. The study showed plainly that many other countries are more willing than the United States to mandate unpleasant steps by workers and employers to fund a stable system.

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