Faced with the largest retirement savings gap of all generations, the majority of Generation Xers believe their dream retirement is out of reach, according to Schroders’s 2023 U.S. retirement savings survey, released today.

Non-retired Americans between the ages of 43 and 58 reported it would take an average of $1,112,183 in savings to retire comfortably—yet they expected to have an average of only $661,013 saved. That $451,170 gap is bigger than those faced by millennials and baby boomers, said Schroders. The study focused exclusively on Gen X.

“The size of the retirement savings gap facing Gen X is concerning, as they are the first generation to rely on 401(k) plans instead of pensions and the next in line to retire,” said Deb Boyden, head of U.S. defined contribution at the global asset management firm. 

In fact, nearly half of all Gen Xers report they’ve done no retirement planning at all, the survey found.

Millennials (defined in the study as those age 27 to 42) believe they will need $1,280,892 to retire comfortably and expect to have $877,266 saved, leaving a savings gap of $403,626. However, since they’re younger, they have more time to make up the shortfall.

In contrast, non-retired baby boomers (those age 59 to 77) believed they would need an average $924,897 to retire comfortably. That actually exceeded the $633,401 they expected to have saved (with $291,496 over the average to spare).

What’s just as bad for Gen Xers is how they are saving. Of the assets they have earmarked for retirement, non-retired members of this group are allocating on average 32% to cash despite their time horizon and sizable savings gap.

When asked why they put money in cash, almost two-thirds of these Gen Xers (63%) said they feared losing their money, and nearly one-quarter (24%) reported that they were not sure how best to invest their savings.

Notably, 61% of non-retired Gen Xers were not confident about their ability to achieve a dream retirement, a fear cited by only 49% of millennials and 53% of non-retired baby boomers.

Furthermore, 45% of non-retired Gen Xers said they had not done any retirement planning. That figure was slightly lower for millennials at 43%. Only 30% of non-retired baby boomers said they hadn’t done any planning.

“As the first generation to head into retirement without the safety net of a pension plan, the stakes are higher for Generation X and the margin for error is lower,” Boyden said.

“Not only are Gen Xers facing a formidable savings gap, our findings suggest a knowledge gap is a formidable headwind that’s threatening to prevent many from reaching their dream retirement.”

It’s likely they will need help making some of their decisions, such as when to take Social Security. Only 11% of non-retired Gen Xers said they will wait until age 70 to take their maximum Social Security benefit payment. Forty-seven percent said they were concerned the program would run out of money, a worry cited by only 38% of non-retired baby boomers and 44% of millennials.

The survey also found that more non-retired Gen Xers (84%) are “concerned or terrified” about the idea of receiving no more regular employment paychecks in retirement, something noted by fewer millennials (79%) and non-retired baby boomers (74%).

“Fortunately, even the oldest Gen Xers have some time before reaching their full retirement age,” Boyden said. “Using this time to develop a retirement plan and increase their savings rate is crucial to improving their retirement readiness before it’s too late.”

The firm conducted the survey of 2,000 U.S. investors from February 13 to March 3 of this year, polling those between the ages of 27 and 79. The median household income for those surveyed was $75,000.