Only one in five Americans count on public pension

Ipsos global survey skepticism widespread

Most Americans have written off public pension systems as the most likely source of retirement income. Their skepticism is shared by large majorities in South Korea, Australia and Mexico, according to a recent Ipsos World Monitor survey.

Asked to choose from a list of the most likely source of retirement income, only 17 per cent of Americans cited public pension. In South Korea and Australia, 19 per cent of survey respondents cited government pension as their likeliest source of income. Likewise, only a minority of survey respondents in the United Kingdom (34 per cent) and France (40 per cent) count on government pensions for income in their retirement years.

About 6,000 adults in 11 countries were asked to choose the most likely source of retirement income from a variety of sources: government pension, private pension from an employer, personal retirement savings, support from children or relatives, or ownership of a house, land or real estate.

The countries surveyed were Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Europeans were among the most likely to count on government pension, with 67 per cent of Spaniards, 56 per cent of Italians and 49 per cent of Germans naming public pension as their most likely source of income.

This belief is not shared by the young, however. European respondents under 35 years are three times more likely than their 55-plus counterparts (21 per cent versus seven per cent, respectively) to count on their own retirement savings first.

What the survey results show is “ an opportunity and a real need for financial institutions to step up and help them plan,” said Doug Cottings, senior vice-president and head of financial services practice at Ipsos-Insight, the company’s marketing research division in the U.S.

“Factors like longevity, health costs, and interest rates will all affect the amount of funds people will need to accumulate prior to retirement — and financial institutions can play an important role in helping the public understand these.”

In most of the countries surveyed, less than one in 10 see ownership of a house, land or real estate as a source of retirement income.

Those who count on their children or relatives are even more scant in numbers. At eight per cent, Mexican respondents are ahead of the pack in counting on their families. Among Asian respondents, there’s little sign that the tradition of caring for one’s elders is alive and well. Only eight per cent of South Koreans, six per cent of Chinese, and virtually zero per cent of Japanese count on family support.

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