Prospect of Freedom 75 top retirement fear: Poll

Originally published in the Times Colonist on December 14th, 2010. To go to the Times Colonist website please click here

A growing number of Canadians fear they’ll be forced to work well into their golden years, a new poll suggests.

About 40 per cent of Canadians aged 25-34 said having to work longer was their No. 1 retirement concern, up 12 per cent since 2006.

Middle-aged Canadians were also more likely to cite having to work longer to supplement their retirement savings as their biggest concern.

Similar concerns have surfaced in the U.S., the poll found, where nearly a quarter of Americans share the same fear, compared to just 15 per cent four years ago.

Susan Eng of CARP, a national advocacy group representing Canadians over age 50, said the concerns are well-founded.

While members are overwhelmingly against extending the age of retirement, she said they recognize people aren’t saving as they should.

“They say: ‘take it from me, I’m already retired, you can’t help me but for my children and grandchildren, here’s what you got to do,’ ” she said.

“They’re really hot on pension reform. They thoroughly believe people are not saving enough and they need to and there’s a real sense of insecurity about their retirement.

“It’s no good at 55 saying ‘oops, I better save for my retirement,’ ” she added.

According to the poll, one in five Canadians aged 25-34 worried they might have to make some lifestyle cuts, compared to just 10 per cent of Americans.

Meanwhile, Americans in this age group are not that concerned about their ability to cover health-care costs, with just 15 per cent expressing this concern.

About 16 per cent of Canadians fear having to rely on others for support in old age, a slight increase over 2006.

The biggest fear among young Canadians aged 18-24 was having to cut back on their desired lifestyle, whereas young Americans, nearly a quarter, fear having to rely on others for support.

Middle-aged Americans as well as those over 55 were most concerned with heath-care costs. Cutting back on their desired lifestyle topped the worry list for Canadians over 55.

The Harris/Decima survey of more than 1,000 Canadian adults and Caravan survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults were commissioned by financial management firm Edward Jones.

The telephone survey was conducted Oct. 28-31 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The poll highlights the importance of saving early, the company said in a news release.

Compound interest adds up over time and investments in RRSPs provide a useful tax break, retirement planning specialist Sucharita Maitra said.

“The recession has been a wake-up call for many investors — especially those that are still early in their careers,” Maitra said.

“Many fear that they will have to work longer to supplement their savings, making retiring at 65 a pipe dream, a worry that has become even more pronounced since the recession.”

© The Times Colonist

Keywords: pension reform, retirement