People with government pensions are more confident about having money in retirement than those without pensions, according to the retirement research organization Hearts and Wallets.
Hearts and Wallets coined the phrase ‘pension envy’ to describe the situation in which people with government pensions feel more secure than those without. The firm drew its conclusions from its annual 2012 Investor Quantitative Panel of 5,400 U.S. households.
It found that 22 percent of those surveyed with government pensions have a moderate to high level of anxiety about finances compared to 37 percent of those without pensions.
The survey also showed 46 percent of those without pensions are concerned about their assets lasting through retirement while 30 percent of those with government pensions have the same concern.
By age 64, 59 percent of households with government pensions expect to be retired while only 35 percent of those without pensions hold the same expectation. At the same time, households with no pension are more likely to expect to need all of their money themselves – 41 percent versus 31 percent. Those without pensions are more afraid of losing what they have and may rely on children or tap into home equity, the survey found.
“The answer isn’t to provide every taxpayer with a government-funded pension,” says Laura Varas, a principal at Hearts and Wallets. ”It is an argument to make financial realities more equitable to avoid the growing resentment and its implications for the country.”
Overall, Hearts and Wallets found that savings are up from 3.6 percent of income in 2011 to 4 percent in 2012. The group that saw the largest increase in savings were those in their 20s, who went from saving 2.9 percent in 2011 to 5.4 percent in 2012.
Savings in employer-sponsored retirement plans also increased from 44 percent in 2011 to 51 percent in 2012. For those earning less than $100,000 annually, the participation rate went from 39 percent last year to 47 percent in 2012.
“Employer-sponsored plans provide some motivation to help Americans save for retirement,” says Chris Brown, Hearts and Wallets principal. “Overall, we find in our focus groups that many Americans no longer think about traditional retirement with the exception of those with government pensions. Americans plan to work, with some scaling back of hours, until they are unemployable, in many cases into their mid-70s and beyond.”