The Four Pillars of
The New Retirement
In August 2020, Edward Jones and Age Wave launched “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement” thought leadership study in the U.S. and Canada. The study is based on a nine-month investigation into what it means to live well in retirement during which we surveyed 9,000 adults across the U.S. and Canada, interviewed over a dozen subject matter experts, and heard from nearly 100 working and retired adults through qualitative research.
Key findings from the U.S. and Canada reports include:
A new definition of retirement is emerging, and it requires new thinking about how one can successfully plan for and live well in retirement. The four pillars of the new retirement are health, family, purpose, and finances. They are inextricably interconnected, and each is essential to thrive in the new retirement.
The new retirement is becoming an exciting and fulfilling stage of life—with new choices, new freedoms, and new challenges. Few retirees may still see retirement as a time for rest and relaxation, but the majority (55% in the U.S. and 51% in Canada) define it as “a whole new chapter of life.” Retirees have freedom from many work and family responsibilities and freedom to explore new options and pursue new interests.
The New Retirement and the COVID-19 Effect
COVID-19 has caused nearly 68 million adults in the U.S. and eight million in Canada to alter their retirement timing. While many are moving out retirement timelines, some say they plan to retire earlier due to health concerns or wanting to spend their time in ways that matter more to them. Twenty million Americans and two million Canadians stopped making retirement savings contributions during the pandemic, driving retirement financial confidence even lower than it was prior to COVID-19.
Despite the disproportionate health impact of COVID-19 on older adults, they are displaying greater resilience and report coping better than younger adults during the pandemic. In the U.S., 37% of Gen Z and 27% of Millennials said they have suffered mental health declines since the pandemic began, while only 15% of Baby Boomers and 8% of Silent Gen respondents said the same. A similar trend appeared in Canada with 38% of Gen Z reporting mental health declines compared to 7% of Silent Gen.
Health: Lifespan and Healthspan – Uncertainty and Opportunity
More than nine in ten retirees in the U.S. and Canada say that “it’s never too late to improve your health,” yet there is an intention/action gap with too few taking regular healthy actions like exercising and eating healthfully. Consequently, our healthspans do not match our lifespans, with older adults in the U.S. and Canada living an average of 9 to 10 years in poor health. Cognitive or “brain” health is of supreme importance and worry for retirees. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are the conditions that retirees in both countries fear the most—more than cancer or heart attack or even infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Family: The Expanding – and Morphing – Family Circle
Positive family relationships and close social connections play a major role in promoting health and total well-being in retirement, while isolation can lead to disability, illness, and a shorter lifespan. For most Americans and Canadians, family extends beyond blood relatives to include families of affinity, anyone they love and care for. Retirees display enormous generational generosity, with a large majority of retirees willing to offer financial support to family members, even if it means sacrificing their own future financial security. In the U.S., 24 million Americans have provided more financial support to adult children due to the pandemic. The vast majority of retirees say they would rely on family if they needed long-term care, yet one of their greatest fears is becoming a burden on their family members.
Purpose: The Sustaining Power of Purpose
Retirees with a strong sense of purpose are happier, healthier, and live longer. They report deriving their strongest sense of purpose from spending time with loved ones. They also face a new challenge and opportunity: how to use their newfound “time affluence” with roughly a third of retirees in the U.S. and Canada struggling to find purpose at the beginning of retirement. They don’t just want to keep busy; they want to spend their time in meaningful ways and to feel useful more than youthful. While only one-quarter of Americans and one-third of Canadians have volunteered in retirement, 89% of Americans and Canadians agree that there should be more ways for retirees to help in their communities.
Finances: Financial Security and the Freedom It Brings
Retirees say the role of money in retirement is to provide security and freedom. Over one-third of retirees in the U.S. and Canada say that managing money in retirement is even more confusing than saving for it. In the U.S., the top financial worry in retirement is the cost of health care and long-term care. Only 22% of U.S. retirees have budgeted for their health and long-term care expenses, and two-thirds of U.S. pre-retirees say they have no idea what their health and long-term care costs may be in retirement. In Canada, the top financial worry for retirees is unexpected expenses with over half (56%) of retirees wishing they had budgeted more for unexpected expenses.
For more information, visit: www.edwardjones.com