Today’s retirees are not retiring, but moving on to other pursuits, according to a new Merrill Lynch study.
People are also valuing health and companionship over money as they plan out their retirements, according to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s Americans’ Perspectives on New Retirement Realities and the Longevity Bonus.
“Peace of mind is a more powerful driver of what Americans want for the future than just wealth accumulation,” says Andy Sieg, head of global wealth and retirement solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The survey included 6,300 responses from people 45 and older. The respondents were almost evenly divided between the general population and those with $250,000 to $3 million in investable assets and between retirees and pre-retirees.
The study found that many so-called "retirees" are actually continuing to work. The only age group where the working population grew was for those 55 and over where more than 4,000,000 were added to the workforce between 2006 and 2011, Merrill Lynch says. Every other age group lost workers during that time.
The numbers were almost evenly split between those who continued their career and those who sought a new job. For those who quit working, 38 percent thought it would be the regular salary they would miss most, but 34 percent actually missed the social connections more. Smaller percentages missed other things, such as having a purpose and goal, and having mental stimulation, according to the survey.
Serious health issues and the inability to pay for healthcare costs were two of the top retirement worries, even for the affluent. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they were afraid a health issue will interfere with their retirement plans. Health expenses are the chief worry at all wealth levels, with 52 percent of the affluent and 37 percent of the general population citing it as their top concern.
Only one in nine pre-retirees is completely confident in their ability to pay for their retirement health care expenses. The study noted that health issues are the top reason people are forced to retire earlier than expected.
“Baby boomers want help sorting through these issues and they do not want it in jargon. They want to be able to understand,” says David Tyrie, head of personal wealth and retirement for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Because people are living longer, the issue of helping a family member comes up more, according to the survey. Couples are collaborating more on the issue with about three fourths of both men and women wanting to be part of financial decisions. More than half of those surveyed expect to have to help an adult child financially.
The population's growing dependence on family is reflected in the fact that the number of multi-generational households has doubled since 1980, going from 11 percent to 22 percent in 2010, according to the study.