Retirement Programs Still Make the World Go Round

September 17, 2002 ( - A company-sponsored retirement plan continues to rank high on workers' list of desirable benefits, a new international survey found.

However, according to the inaugural Principal Global Financial Well-Being Study, many workers aren’t taking full advantage of a company retirement program even if they have one provided to them. Of the six nation’s surveyed (including the US), 60% of workers said they were willing to save more for retirement, but only 30% of respondents have actually figured out their retirement financial needs.

US workers did better on that score with 70% of the Americans polled reporting that they had done the financial planning to know how much they would need when they stop working.

The study, sponsored by the Principal Financial Group, also found that many respondents failed to factor in their post-retirement life expectancy. For example: only 12% of Japanese workers – the country with the highest life expectancy – anticipate that their savings will need to last more than 20 years, the study found.

Generally, strong benefit plans continue to be an effective way to attract and keep employee talent, the Principal survey reported. The majority of workers in the US, Australia, Hong Kong and India acknowledge that having good employee benefits encourages them to keep working for their current company.

But workers listed retirement plans as among the benefit programs needing to be beefed up, the study found. Employees also wanted to see improvements in:

  • health insurance
  • life insurance
  • disability insurance.

Retirement Confidence

The study also identified increasing apprehension regarding government’s ability to maintain retirement and health care benefit levels in years to come.

Only 15% of Brazilians are confident that their government will continue to provide an equal level of benefits in retirement to those received today, while Australians (6%) and Japanese (3%) are even less confident in their government’s ability to provide pension or health care benefits equal to those they currently receive.

Overall retirement confidence is highest in the US with 51% of American employees indicating that their standard of living will be higher in retirement, followed by India (49%), Brazil (35%), Hong Kong (27%), Australia (15%) and Japan (12%).

Roper ASW conducted at least 500 interviews of 15 minutes in length in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Hong Kong and India. US results were obtained both from the 2002 Second Quarter Principal Financial Well-Being Index, conducted by Harris Interactive and other Principal Financial Group sponsored research.