Retirement Roulette

By Clive Crook

Interesting data in the latest Allstate-National Journal poll, both on the country's political mood and on the focus of this latest installment in the series: retirement. The financial anxieties of "near-retirees" come through loud and clear.

This survey shows that among Americans age 50+ who have not yet retired ("near-retirees"), the recession has cast a shadow on their retirement plans and they find themselves with a completely different perspective than current retirees.

        •        On average, "near-retirees" expect to retire six years later than the age reported by those already retired.

        •        68% of "near-retirees" expect to work in some form after retirement, and about half of them say it will be out of necessity. Only 11% of current retirees report some form of continued employment.

        •        "Near-retirees" expect to retire later, have a less secure and a less comfortable retirement than their parents had. Current retirees say they retired earlier than their parents, with a more comfortable and more secure retirement.

        •        "Near-retirees" are also significantly less confident than current retirees in their ability to provide a secure retirement and handle expenses related to long-term care.

They're alarmed, but when you look at the numbers for projected savings at retirement and consider the prospects for Social Security and Medicare, you have to wonder whether they are alarmed enough.

National Journal and The Atlantic have produced a "Next Economy" supplement with some good articles on the subject. I especially recommend the closing column by Jonathan Rauch: "Escaping ICU hell."

Here is a link to the polling data if you want to take a closer look.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/retirement-roulette/250077/