The Over-Stated Retirement Crisis

The Over-Stated Retirement Crisis

Overstated Retirement Crisis

An ever-improving retirement system is helping Americans be more prepared for retirement.

Many Americans fear their retirement savings won’t be enough to allow them to retire, and media coverage has reinforced this narrative. In reality, however, retirement savers aren’t really facing a crisis. Each generation of retirees has been better off than the previous generation. In fact, in 2017, retirement assets represented 337% of employee wages, according to Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute.1

What’s more, many of the eye-catching statistics cited in stories about the retirement crisis fail to paint a complete picture of the retirement landscape. Current plan account balances may be misleading unless an employee has rolled over all the retirement assets they’ve accumulated over the years. To address the question of whether a retirement savings crisis is actually at hand, it’s critical to consider workplace retirement plans in the context of the greater retirement system.


Key findings

  • More individuals have access to workplace retirement plans now than in the past.
  • Individuals are saving proportionally more money today than they have in the past.
  • Today’s workers will actually get more money in retirement than previous retirees.
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1 Andrew Biggs, American Enterprise Institute, Statement before House Committee on the Budget on “Keeping Our Promise to America’s Seniors: Retirement Security in the 21st Century,” “13 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Retirement Savings,” May 2019.