Do You Know Where Your Retirement Income Is Coming From?

January 24, 2006 ( - A new survey from AXA Equitable found that only one in five workers knows what their specific retirement income will be.

The AXA Equitable Retirement Scope found that, even though social security is a major income source for retirees, 92% believe the social security system is troubled or in crisis. Consequently, nearly 65% of America’s working respondents plan to rely on their own retirement savings or income sources rather than Social Security or pensions, according to the AXA news release.

Sixty-three percent of working respondents said they desire to hold a paying job once they are retired.

Current US retirees enjoy the highest average monthly income of the 11 countries in the study, a reported $4,243. However, 84% of retired respondents report they have lost faith in the social security system, even though 70% said they rely on social security and pension plans “heavily” for their retirement income, the release said.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Americans lead the world in preparing for their retirement. Nearly 85% of working Americans have already started planning for retirement, leading all nations. On average, the American worker starts saving at age 30 and sets aside $1,253 monthly for retirement, a figure that more than doubles retirement savings in all other surveyed nations. The median amount is $463 monthly, also significantly more than the median amount in the other surveyed nations.
  • Nearly half of retirees surveyed have invested in real estate. Homeownership is high among retirees in the US: 91% own their homes, 15% own two.
  • Nineteen percent of US workers expect retirement income to be higher than their last salary, an optimism that trumps all other surveyed nations. Retirement income has increased for 20% of US retirees, well above that of Australia and the UK, both tying for second, each with 14% of retirees experiencing similar good fortune.
  • On average, people would like to retire before 60 years old but realize it’s not likely to happen. Working people consider 55 the ideal age for retirement but don’t expect to retire until 62; retirees would retire at age 59 if they could do it again. On average, Canadians and Americans retire earliest; nearly three out of four American retirees did so before age 65.
  • Retirement travel isn’t all that US workers hope. Nearly 60% identify travel as a top priority in retirement, but only 31% of retirees value travel as much. American retirees travel more than their foreign counterparts, but rarely leave the country.
  • Americans plan to spend retirement savings, not pass them on to heirs. Sixty-four percent of working Americans expect to spend their savings in retirement ; only a third expect to maintain savings and pass them to surviving family members. French respondents are most generous with their inheritance; it’s the only population in which more than half of workers plan to pass retirement savings on to heirs. Even more (71%) of French retirees are doing the same.

The AXA Equitable surveyed more than 6,900 people in 11 countries for its second annual Retirement Scope. More information can be found at .