Boomers, Gen-X, Millennial – 3 Retirement Concerns

Why It Matters:

  • We all worry, but what you worry about in retirement may be depend on your generation, according to a study from the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies®
  • About 80% of all workers think they’ll have a harder time retiring than their parents.
  • More than three quarters of workers worry if Social Security will be around for them.

Chase Squires tkc.profilePicture Written by: Chase Squires | Transamerica
May 07, 2018

6 Min readClock Icon

Disruption is a term often applied to new technologies. Think ride-hailing apps, online banking, video and music streaming.

Now think retirement.

A new study from nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® finds longevity — the years added to our lives as we live longer —is a new disruptor, changing the way Americans envision their retirement years.

The 18th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, one of the longest running surveys of its kind, took a closer look at how different generations think about retirement. As you might expect, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials have their own visions of retirement — but they all go beyond a hammock in Florida or a golf course in Phoenix.

Today’s workers dream of an active retirement. About 70% of the more than 6,000 workers surveyed said travel was a retirement dream. A quarter of survey participants said they planned to volunteer, and nearly a third imagine working in retirement, including pursuing an encore career.

And today’s longer lifespans may have changed workers’ perception of “old.” The study found today’s workers overall consider a person to be “old” at age 70 (median), while Baby Boomers said age 75 (median).

Three generations, three outlooks

While the three generations have common worries about having enough resources for retirement, they’re heading toward that landmark with different financial tools.

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) grew up with some access to pensions and were the first to have access to workplace retirement accounts such as a 401(k) but have had less time to use them. Almost 40% of Boomers expect Social Security to be their primary income source in retirement.

Gen Xers (1965 to 1978) went to work just as pensions were fading and the responsibility of retirement saving shifted to them. While their retirement confidence is lacking and many are behind, they should know they still have time to catch up. Only 14% are “very confident” they can retire to a comfortable lifestyle.

Millennials (1979 to 2000) worry Social Security will not be there for them in retirement (80%) and believe retirement funding will fall on their shoulders. Many millennials (71%) are saving for retirement through employer-sponsored plans and/or outside the workplace, but they need to learn more about investing. And one more thing: almost 1 in 5 believe they will live to 100 or beyond.

There are some common threads. Three quarters (76%) of surveyed workers believe they’ll have a harder time in retirement than their parents, and 76% are concerned about the status of Social Security.

What next?

Nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies offers recommendations for workers, employers, and policy makers.

Workers: Start contributing to a retirement account as early as possible and save consistently. Take full advantage of employer matching contributions. And take care of your health.

Employers: Offer a retirement plan for workers. Extend plan eligibility to part-time workers. And structure matching contribution formulas to promote higher salary deferrals.

Policy Makers: Preserve and enhance existing incentives for workers to save for retirement, such as tax-deferral. Encourage automatic enrollment in retirement plans. And require retirement plan statements to go beyond lump sum totals by illustrating account balances in terms of lifetime income.

To learn more, the entire study, “Wishful Thinking or Within Reach? Three Generations Prepare for ‘Retirement’” is available online. Share your own ideas about retirement with our Community.

The Social Security Administration offers a variety of tools to help calculate retirement income and needs online.

Since 1998, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS) has conducted a national survey of U.S. business employers and workers regarding their attitudes toward retirement. The overall goals for the study are to illuminate emerging trends, promote awareness, and help educate the public. It has grown to be one of the longest running and largest national surveys of its kind.

Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS) is a division of Transamerica Institute®, a nonprofit, private foundation. Transamerica Institute is funded by contributions from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates and may receive funds from unaffiliated third parties.

TCRS and its representatives cannot give ERISA, tax, investment or legal advice. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as ERISA, tax, investment or legal advice. Interested parties must consult and rely solely upon their own independent advisors regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented here. For more information please visit

Why It Matters:

  • If you can, make sure you’re taking full advantage of your workplace retirement plan.
  • Employers can help by extending workplace retirement plans to include part-timers.
  • Only 14% of surveyed workers say they are “very confident” they can retire comfortably.



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