Millennials are not adequately saving for retirement, MU study finds

March 05, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. - According to the U.S. Census, millennials accounted for more than 25 percent of the population in 2015, yet this significant segment of the workforce might not be prepared for retirement. In a new study, researchers from the University of Missouri found that only 37.2 percent of working millennials have retirement accounts, demonstrating a need for increased financial education for retirement. This study is among the first to examine the state of millennials' retirement savings.

"While it could be assumed that millennials have plenty of time to save for retirement, they have to shoulder more responsibility than their parents and grandparents to do so," said Rui Yao, associate professor of personal financial planning. "Compared to older generations, millennials are less likely to have employer-provided pension or defined benefit retirement plans. Additionally, there is increased uncertainty about Social Security, and millennials are likely to live longer."

Yao and Guopeng Chen, a doctoral candidate in personal financial planning, used the most recent 2013 survey of consumer finances, a survey sponsored by the Federal Reserve System, to determine the saving behaviors of millennials. The research team was interested in the saving behaviors of millennials with at least one year of employment, making them eligible to contribute to a defined-contribution plan.

Yao and Chen identified the following trends in retirement saving behaviors among millennials:

"The results suggest that financial education about saving for retirement is absolutely necessary," Yao said.

"With the decline of defined benefit plans, millennials need to know much more about investing for retirement than their parents or grandparents did. Proper retirement preparation requires strategic and disciplined savings. Given that retirement accounts require the amount to compound, opening a retirement account early in one's career is the best first step for effectively saving for retirement."

"Millennials retirement saving behavior: account ownership and balance," was published in the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal.
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This work was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For this article, Yao and Cheng received the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal Best Paper Award in Personal Finance/Consumer Economics for 2017. The Department of Personal Financial Planning is in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences.

University of Missouri-Columbia

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