Data and Research

No Political Divide on Retirement Security

Research also finds 77% of Americans say the disappearance of pensions has made it harder to achieve the American Dream.

By Rebecca Moore | February 28, 2017

While America is facing a deep political divide on many policy issues right now, both Democrats and Republicans are concerned about their ability to achieve a secure retirement.

A study, “Retirement Security 2017: America’s View of the Retirement Crisis and Solutions,” published by the National Institute on Retirement (NIRS) and based on a poll of 800 Americans conducted by Greenwald & Associates finds 76% of Americans are concerned about their ability to achieve a secure retirement, with that level of worry at 78% for Democrats and 76% for Republicans. Eighty-eight percent of Americans agree that the nation faces a retirement crisis, and the concern is high across party lines.

The research also finds 82% of Americans have a favorable view of pensions. Eighty-five percent say all workers should have access to a pension plan so they can be independent and self-reliant in retirement. More than three-fourths of Americans (77%) say the disappearance of pensions has made it harder to achieve the American Dream, and 71% of respondents say pensions do more to help workers achieve a secure retirement as compared to 401(k) plans. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say pensions are safer than 401(k) plans.

Americans strongly support pensions for police officers and firefighters (90%), and teachers (81%). Eighty-one percent say these benefits are deserved because public employees help finance the cost from every paycheck.

An overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) say leaders in Washington do not understand how hard it is to prepare for retirement. Similarly, 86% say leaders in Washington need to give a higher priority to ensuring that Americans have a secure retirement. In terms of solutions, 82% of Americans say government should make it easier for employers to offer pensions.

Action at the state level to expand access to retirement savings gets a favorable nod; Americans believe that state-sponsored retirement savings programs for workers not covered by their employers’ plans are a good idea (75%), and 81% say they would consider participating in a state plan. However, lawmakers are making attempts to thwart state-sponsored plan efforts.

Finally, the research found 76% of respondents say it is a mistake to cut government spending to reduce Social Security benefits for current retirees. When it comes to adjusting benefits for future generations, 73% oppose cutting government spending that reduces Social Security benefits.