EBRI Finds Retirement Confidence, Preparation Vary Among Ethnic Groups

May 9, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Despite relatively equal access to employer-sponsored retirement programs, there are noticeable differences in retirement preparation and confidence among three primary minority groups according to a study scheduled to be released tomorrow by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

For plan sponsors, the differences in approach, assumptions and preparation of the various groups highlight the need for varying communications programs in dealing with today’s increasingly diverse workforce.

For the fourth year, additional respondents in three minority groups (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans) were surveyed as part of the Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) by EBRI.

Planning = Confidence

Overall, Asian-American workers tend to report the highest levels of confidence about various financial aspects of retirement, and a larger percentage (48%) have attempted to calculate how much they will need for retirement than the other two groups. 

In contrast, only a third (32%) of Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans have made that calculation, compared with 44% of the total population.  Various studies have indicated that those who have made at least an attempt to determine their financial needs in retirement are more confident in their readiness.

Asian-Americans were also more likely than workers in general to indicate they or their spouse have personally saved money for retirement (78% versus 69%), while African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are less likely than workers in general (54% and 50%, respectively).

Access, Contributions Vary

While approximately half of workers overall and in each of minority group are offered a retirement savings plan by their employer, African-Americans (32%) and Hispanic-Americans (36%) were much less likely to report employer contributions to those programs last year than either Asian-Americans (51%) or workers overall (49%).

More than three-quarters (78%) of Asian-Americans have saved something for retirement, more than the 69% of all workers, and far more than the 54% of African-Americans and 50% of Hispanic-Americans responding to the study.

Running Late

Based on that, it was not surprising to find that African-Americans were more likely to say they were a “lot behind schedule” in accumulating retirement assets (48%) compared with Hispanic-Americans (35%), Asian-Americans (22%), or workers in general (34%).

Seventy percent of the workers in each group expect to work in retirement, though 60% are also counting on retirement income from a pension plan. 

More than a third (36%) of African-Americans expect at least half of their post-retirement income to come from Social Security, compared with 34% of Hispanic-Americans and  just 21% of Asian-Americans

Each of the minority groups were more likely to expect monetary support from children or other family members in retirement, roughly 33% to 19% for the overall workforce.