This Generation Has the Gloomiest Outlook on Retirement

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Workers of all ages
Monkey Business Images /

We work our whole lives in anticipation of retirement, the time when we finally live life on our own terms.

But at least one generation of Americans expects the pot at the end of the rainbow to contain little more than fool’s gold.

Recently, finance and insurance company AIG Life and Retirement released its Moving Forward study, a survey of 1,000 Americans between the ages of 22 and 76 with household incomes of $40,000 or more.

As part of the survey, AIG asked respondents to describe their outlook on life in retirement. AIG then grouped the answers by generation: millennials, Generation X and baby boomers.

One age cohort had an especially gloomy view of their golden years. Following is a breakdown of each generation’s outlook on retirement.

Baby boomers

Sad baby boomer retiree in a chair

It’s somewhat surprising — and more than a bit disheartening — that baby boomers had by far the most discouraging outlook on retirement.

Just 13% of boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — say they have a positive outlook on life in retirement. This is especially sad for a couple of reasons.

For starters, millions of boomers are now entering their retirement years. Their grim outlook suggests that these “golden years” may not be a happy time.

In addition, the gloomy outlook of boomers has to be unsettling for younger people. Whereas younger generations still have many miles to go before quitting work — and thus are limited to merely imagining what post-work life will be like — many boomers already have retired.

For these boomers, a grim take on retirement likely reflects their lived experience.

Generation X

Real estate agent
ESB Professional /

Those in Generation X — born between 1965 and 1980 — have a somewhat more hopeful take on life after work.

Among members of this generation, 26% say they have a positive outlook on retirement. That is double the number of baby boomers who feel the same.

One great way to increase your odds of a happy retirement is to make sure you have enough money saved to finance a long and fruitful post-work life. For more tips on building a nest egg, read “11 Retirement Funding Goals Everyone Ought to Hit by Age 50.”


A millennial Black couple happily packs to move to another city
fizkes /

Older generations love to poke fun at millennials. But people in this age group — born between 1981 and 1996 — have an enviably sunny view of retirement.

Nearly half — 45% — report having a positive outlook on their golden years. Perhaps that is because they are doing a better job of saving for retirement than older workers, as we reported in “This Surprising Generation Saves Best for Retirement.”

How to build a great retirement

Happy retirees in Florida
DisobeyArt /

Whatever your outlook on retirement, there is always room to make the picture brighter. Start by enrolling in the Money Talks News retirement course The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need.

This 14-week course is intended for those who are 45 or older, but everyone can benefit from taking it.

If you prefer turning to professionals for help, stop by the Solutions Center and find the perfect financial adviser.

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