Americans Fear Soc. Sec Demise but Still Not Saving

February 9, 2004 ( - Despite the fear by many Americans that the Social Security program will be bankrupt by the time they reach retirement, less than half of those in a recent poll said they fund a retirement account monthly.

Less than half, 47%, told pollsters that they are saving or investing monthly for retirement, a ccording to a recent study by Opinion Research Corporation. Adults 35 to 44 years old are most likely to retirement savers (60%), while those 18 to 24 (34%) and 55 to 64 (32%) are least likely. Men are also more likely than women to be squirreling away money for their golden years (54% vs. 41%).

Not surprisingly, retirement saving increases with income, although among adults in the most-affluent households ($75,000 or more a year), only 66% save money on a monthly basis, the survey found. However, those who are putting aside money for retirement are apparently serious about it, saving or investing an average of $479 a month.

Of those saving for retirement, each month respondents said they were setting aside:

  • Less than $50, 10%
  • $50-$99, 5%
  • $100-$199, 6%
  • $200-$299, 7%
  • $300-$499, 7%
  • $500-$999, 5%
  • $1000 or more, 7%

The savings behavior is a bit puzzling alongside respondents’ fears that Social Security will be bankrupt by the time they reach retirement age.

The survey found that a solid majority of adults younger than 65 (60%) are not confident that Social Security will be in place long enough for them to get its benefits. Adults 25 to 44 are most pessimistic about the program, with 73% saying they are not too or not at all confident the program will exist when they retire. Even among those 55 to 64, only 64% are very or fairly confident the program will exist when they need it.

The study was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation among a sample of 826 adults 18 to 64 on November 7 to 10, 2003.