Data and Research

Generations Display Different Financial Goals and Anxieties

Millennials, for example, are more bullish about the market, but less confident about their own retirement prospects.

By John Manganaro | September 28, 2016

A new survey report from American Funds, a mutual fund provider operated by Capital Group, highlights just how anxious each generation feels about their financial future.

According to the survey data published in a report, “Wisdom of Experience: Lessons Learned From Millennial, Generation X and Baby Boomer Investors,” nearly two-thirds (63%) of Gen Xers are commonly kept up at night thinking about financing their retirement, and one in three is worried they’re not earning enough money to be able to invest effectively for the future.

“After experiencing the dot-com bust, the global financial crisis and the housing collapse, as well as stagnant wage growth during their formative adult years, Gen Xers—or Generation AnXious—are wary about their financial future,” suggests Heather Lord, senior vice president and head of strategy and innovation at Capital Group.

The research shows Boomers have the lowest expectations about future market returns, but they have the most optimistic outlook on their retirement. For Millennials and Gen Xers, it's the opposite, according to the survey data: They are more bullish about the market, but less so about their own retirement.

“Over the next 10 years, only 16% of Boomers expect the market to do as well as the last five years of relatively strong returns,” Lord notes, “while nearly twice as many Millennials (31%) and Gen Xers (28%) picked the most bullish scenario.”

One positive finding is that all generations “feel smarter when they stick with a long-term investment strategy, with nearly two-thirds (65%) of Boomers adhering to this buy-and-hold mindset.” Also positive, an impressive 59% of Millennials currently in the work force say they began saving for retirement before age 25, compared to 42% of Gen Xers and 28% of Boomers.

“Despite concerns of Millennials about saving enough money for retirement, they do dream big,” the report highlights. “They expect to retire later than Boomers, but are least likely to expect to keep working part-time. Two-thirds of Millennials want to spend their time in retirement traveling the world.”

The full survey report may be obtained at