Generation Xers More Glum than Boomers on Retirement Finances

April 14, 2008

Baby boomers say they are worried about achieving a comfortable retirement, but a new study suggests Generation X is even more pessimistic.

More than two-thirds of Americans aged 27 to 42 don’t think they will ever be able to stop working, according to a survey published jointly Monday by Scottrade and BetterInvesting.

In contrast, 64 percent of respondents aged 55 to 64 said they could retire and not worry, even though this group is much closer to retirement age.

“The Gen X group is the most anxious about their finances,” said Chris Moloney, chief marketing officer at Scottrade.

Of the 1,000 respondents 18 and older polled in early January, 40 percent said they had saved less than $25,000 for retirement. For perspective, someone who envisions 20 years of retirement on about $50,000 a year would need to have $1 million stashed away.

Generation Xers are well aware of this need, the survey found. In fact, 37 percent said they would like to have between $1 million to $5 million saved for retirement — even if their ability to save this money leaves such sums in the realm of wishful thinking. Twenty-one percent said they have yet to begin saving for retirement.

“Gen X is in the middle of a ‘retirement perfect storm’ of very high expectations, low retirement savings and massive concern about the future of Social Security,” Moloney added.

This concern is largely the result of a barrage of negative media coverage about the entitlement system as a demographic time-bomb that will become more difficult to fund as older folks begin to outnumber the young.

There is vast disagreement even among economists on just how solvent Social Security will remain, and until when. Those who favor privatization-type reforms argue that an entitlement crisis is imminent. Others champion the system, saying funding troubles will not arise until at least 35 years from now.

Whatever the case, Scottrade and BetterInvesting found that Generation X doesn’t appear to be counting on the money.

“It’s a black hole to them,” said Moloney.

(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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