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There have been several comments about this statement: Duncan states that one third of households have NO RETIREMENT account of any kind. My apologies for not more clearly stating this, but it specifically refers to households in the 55 to 64 age group.

The questioners thought that it might have applied to younger families, say in their 20's to 30's. It would be expected that many of these families had NOT yet started saving for retirement. I wish this was the correct explanation, but it is not.

I have seen similar numbers reported several places. The most detailed analysis I found comes from the Pew Research Center. [1] It is a little dated using data taken in 2006. If anything, you would expect the percentage of savers to be lower today due to the 2008 financial downturn. Here is the percentage of people that have any type of retirement savings plans other than Social Security:

Age Percent that has additional
Retirement savings plan

18-29 33%

30-49 68%

50-64 70%

65+ 56%

Stated differently from this study, ~30% of people aged 50 to 64 do NOT have any retirement savings other than Social Security. I think that is close enough to Duncan’s “one third.”

I also find it interesting form this report that 39% of people aged 65 and over rely solely on Social Security. The report has the data separated by several other factors if you would like to see.

Personally, I find the one third percentage to be very credible from my personal observations. I have met and worked with many people that derive 100% of their retirement income from Social Security. I have posted in the past about the our work with “the other 1%.” These are the folks in the roughly bottom 1% of income. The majority of them are retired. We don’t sit around and talk about optimal portfolio allocations with them. At the same time I do not directly ask them about their sources of income. From seeing them not running their air conditioners when it is 100 F outside, I make the assumption it is because they cannot afford the electricity. Some of their houses including land are appraised at $15k. I have been at these houses. And this is less than 10 miles from houses appraised at $15 million. It might be 100% incorrect for me to assume their only source of income is Social Security. Frankly, I think it is too embarrassing to ask them.

BOTTOM LINE is from a data standpoint, I agree with Duncan’s assertion that about one third of 55-64 year olds are solely dependent on Social Security to fund their retirement.



[1] Pew Research, see page 9 for the retirement funding data
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