With the presidential election just a few weeks away, a new survey is shedding some light on Americans’ retirement outlook. According to the 2012 Retirement & Politics Survey from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America Transition Boomers—consumers between the ages of 55 and 65 who are less than 10 years away from retirement--agree that rising health-care costs will have the greatest effect on their retirement outlook.
Sixty-seven percent of all Transition Boomers listed health-care expenses as their top concern, with Republicans at 64%, Democrats at 69%, and Independents at 66%. Social Security ranked second at 53% for all Transition Boomers, followed by tax payment changes (31%), rising national debt (26%), unemployment (19%) and education (4%).
Conducted with more than 1,200 Baby Boomers ages 55 to 65, the survey found that among these six economic issues, Democrat Transition Boomers are more focused on Social Security (65% of Democrats versus 42% for Republicans, 50% for Independents and 54% for those with no preference) and Republicans on rising national debt (38% of Republicans versus 15% for Democrats, 29% for Independents and 19% for those with no preference) than their counterparts.
“Regardless of political affiliation, Americans are facing tough challenges in the years ahead,” said Katie Libbe, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life. “It's crucial that everyone starts the process of retirement planning as early as possible to build toward a future with some certainty and security. Finding the time and energy to devote to retirement planning is a challenge, but the strategic choice can pay dividends down the road.”
Party affiliation affects approach to retirement savings
When it comes to overall retirement savings philosophy, 59% of Republican Transition Boomers identified themselves as being conservative or moderately conservative, compared to 36% of Democrats. However, Democrat Transition Boomers were more likely to be balanced in their retirement savings approach, with 29% identifying themselves as balanced versus 18% for Republican Transition Boomers.
Regarding the effect the election will have on their approach to retirement savings, 29% of Republican Transition Boomers were likely to become more aggressive if Romney wins while 30% of Democrats would become more conservative. If President Obama is re-elected, 81% of Democrat Transition Boomers anticipate no changes to their retirement approach while 42% of Republicans said they would become more conservative.
Independents not swayed
Transition Boomers who did not identify with either major political party also reported being more conservative or balanced in their retirement savings philosophy. Thirty-nine percent of Independents and 29% of those with no preference identified themselves as conservative or moderately conservative, while 30% of Independents and 34% with no preference identified themselves as balanced in their retirement savings approach.
The majority of this group of Transition Boomers also said the outcome of the election would not trigger a change in their retirement savings strategy. Specifically, if President Obama is re-elected, 64% of Independents and 75% of no preference Transition Boomers said they would keep the same retirement savings strategy. If Romney wins, 61% of Independents and 73% of no preference Transition Boomers said they would keep the same retirement savings strategy.
Early retirement savings start for Republicans
Retirement planning is clearly important to all Transition Boomers. Seventy-two percent of consumers in this group began saving for retirement in their 40s or earlier, and 28% started in their 30s. More Republican Transition Boomers say they have started saving for retirement prior to age 50 (79%) than Democrats (69%), Independents (71%), or Transition Boomers without political party preference (67%).
In total, 17% of Transition Boomers indicated that they haven’t begun saving for retirement yet. Only 12% of Republicans, 19% of Democrats, 19% of Independents, and 23% of those with no party preference said they have not yet begun saving for retirement.
The 2012 Retirement & Politics Survey was commissioned by Allianz Life and conducted from Sept. 17-20, 2012 among a random sample of online panelists by Ipsos.