More than half of young adults say they can improve the world, less than half say they can secure their financial future

Over 40% of young adults live paycheck-to-paycheck; more than one-third say saving for retirement remains a top financial goal

New York, June 1, 2023 – With a possible recession looming and global activism growing, young adults are far more bullish about their ability to change the world than they are about securing their own financial future, according to a report from the TIAA Institute and Business for Impact's AgingWell Hub at Georgetown University.

The report – the Young Adults Personal and World Outlook Survey – surveyed  Gen Z and younger millennials, ages 24 to 35.

More than half (56%) feel that they have a role in solving global problems like climate change, social injustice and political division. But when it comes to their finances:

  • 42% say they're living paycheck-to-paycheck
  • 51% say they don't expect to do as well financially as their parents
  • Only 33% say they could handle an unexpected major expense

"Many young people are pessimistic about their financial futures. We owe it to them to support their financial wellness and to help them achieve security in retirement so they can continue to change the world well beyond their youth," said Surya Kolluri, head of the TIAA Institute. "About 20% of them turn to social media as a trusted source of information for retirement planning, but there are more proven ways for younger workers to get help. They should seek out financial advisors to craft plans that meet their short- and long-term financial goals. Employee retirement plan sponsors can also help younger workers by automating retirement plan contributions, offering plans with guaranteed lifetime income and by increasing access to financial wellness tools."

The survey also showed some encouraging data:

More than half (54%) expect or want to fully retire at a certain point, and more than one third (36%) say saving for retirement is one of their top three financial goals. Almost three in four young adults (72%) indicate they are saving in a retirement plan – either through their workplace (48%), one that they purchased on their own (13%), or both (11%).

"The sooner young people start saving for retirement, the more their money has time to grow, and the better they'll feel about their financial futures," said Jeanne de Cervens, Director of the AgingWell Hub. "We can't have people this early in their careers resigning themselves to thinking they won't do as well financially as their parents did. We need employers, community groups and others to step up and show young workers how they can plan and get ahead."

The report also found that while more Black Americans currently face financial struggles, they're more likely to be optimistic about the future.

Consider: 50% of Black Americans say they're living paycheck-to-paycheck, compared to 44% of whites.

When asked whether they're securing their financial future, however, 55% of Black Americans said yes, compared to 35% of whites, and 47% of Hispanic/Latinos. Only 6% of Black Americans said they did not expect to ever be able to afford to fully retire, compared to 16% of whites and 11% of Hispanic/Latino young adults.

Hispanic/Latino and Black American young adults are also more likely to save on a regular basis compared to whites (36%, 33% vs 29%).

Women were more pessimistic. While there was little difference in whether the genders said they're living paycheck-to-paycheck, 50% of men said they're securing their financial future (compared to only 30% of women), and 45% of men said they can enjoy life because of the way they're managing their money (compared to 30% of women).

The full report can be found at just

About the TIAA Institute

The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit

About TIAA

TIAA is a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people and thousands of institutions. It is the #1 not-for-profit retirement market provider1, paid more than $5.6 billion in lifetime income to retired clients in 2022 and has $1.2 trillion in assets under management (as of 3/31/2023)2.

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About the AgingWell Hub

The AgingWell HubOpens in a new window is committed to harnessing the power of business and cross-sector collaboration to help individuals of all generations age well, with a special focus on the nexus of financial security, good health, and connected communities.

About Business for Impact

Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of BusinessOpens in a new window is founded on the belief that companies can be a powerful force for good. We strive to help solve today’s most pressing issues through delivering world-class education, impactful student experience, and direct action with corporations, nonprofits, and government. Our aspiration is that Georgetown-educated leaders will be renowned for managing the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. Follow us on Twitter: @GUBizforImpact.Opens in a new window

About Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business

Located at the global intersection of business, policy, and international relations in the capital of the United States, Georgetown University's McDonough School of BusinessOpens in a new window draws upon its access to business, government, policy makers, nonprofits, and the diplomatic community, as well as the expertise of Georgetown's other renowned schools, to bring an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to learning and scholarship. Rooted in Georgetown's Jesuit tradition, the school prepares undergraduates, graduate students, and participants in customized executive education courses to become globally minded, principled leaders in service to business and society. Follow us on Twitter: @msbgu.Opens in a new window

About Edge Research

Edge Research is a woman-owned small business that provides marketing research services to clients in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Our responsive approach and commitment to informing client decisions with the best information and insights has made Edge a trusted partner to outstanding organizations and some of the biggest brands in the US. Celebrating 25 years in 2022, we have built robust practices in Education, Health, Financial Services and Technology, Small Business Solutions, and Philanthropy. For more about Edge or to view our other public studies visit us at in a new window or follow us on Twitter @EdgeResearchDC.Opens in a new window

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TIAA Media Team
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Georgetown University
Berry Brady
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1As of July 21, 2022. Based on data in PLANSPONSOR's 403(b) 2022 DC Recordkeeping Survey, combined 457 and 403(b) data.

2As of March 31, 2023 assets under management across Nuveen Investments affiliates and TIAA investment management teams are $1,240 billion.

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