Gen Y More Guarded about Retirement Savings than Older Generations

Survey shows younger generation is pragmatic about how long their retirement will last and how they will pay for it
61 percent are willing to consider lifetime income options to achieve security
New York, June 24, 2015 – A recent survey from TIAA-CREF of 1,000 adults nationwide finds that when it comes to retirement planning, Gen Y (age 18-34) may be more conservative than older generations in their outlook, with only 56 percent saying they are counting on Social Security to provide income in their retirement, compared to 76 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds and 73 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds.
And with the memory of the financial crisis still strong for many younger adults, this group also is more concerned about market turbulence. Thirty-four percent say if they could choose one primary goal for their retirement plan, it would be to ensure that their savings are safe, no matter what happens in the market – a marked increase from older generations. Only 16 percent of Americans age 35 to 44 and 22 percent of Americans age 45 to 54 report the same.
The survey also found that Gen Y takes a pragmatic view about the length of time their retirement may last: 34 percent say they plan to accrue retirement savings to allow them to live comfortably for more than 25 years, compared to only 26 percent of respondents overall. However, 31 percent aren’t currently saving any money for retirement, due in part to financial challenges like student loans or jobs that don’t offer retirement plans. This late start could have a significant impact on their long-term savings.
“Many in Gen Y came of age during the Great Recession, which helped shape their attitudes and outlook on their own finances,” said Teresa Hassara, executive vice president and head of Institutional Business at TIAA-CREF. “They face higher student loan debt and fewer prospects for full-time employment with benefits than previous generations, making it harder to save enough for a comfortable retirement. The gap between the need for financial security and having the will and the means to achieve it may well impact this generation for decades to come.”
A secure and stable stream of retirement income could help those in Gen Y achieve their retirement goals, and 61 percent say they would be willing to devote a portion of their retirement savings to an investment that will provide a monthly payment for the duration of their retirement – the highest percentage of any age group surveyed. However, despite the strong desire for guaranteed monthly income, 72 percent of those in Gen Y are unfamiliar with annuities, and 62 percent say they don’t know if their retirement plan even offers an option for a monthly payment in retirement.
“We are committed to helping people in Gen Y build the retirement security and lifetime income they want,” said Hassara. “The solution is to help them develop a plan to save enough to build a stream of income in retirement by offering them solutions like in-plan annuities along with education and advice to help them fully understand their investment options.”
TIAA-CREF helps individuals plan for their financial well-being and build their confidence by offering a variety of resources and interactive tools related to financial advice and goal-setting. In addition to its online Advice and Guidance Center, TIAA-CREF has a website, Starting Your Financial Life , exclusively for Gen Y that focuses on topics and issues that are top of mind for them. The company offers access to financial consultants via phone and at more than 100 offices across the country.
For more information, view the TIAA-CREF Lifetime Income Survey fact sheet.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by KRC Research by phone among a national random sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 years and older, from Jan. 7 to 13, 2015, using a combination of landline and cell phone interviews. The margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $866 billion in assets under management (as of 3.31.15) and is a leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

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