News, Syndicated Studies

Survey: Americans’ Optimism About Living Comfortably Through Retirement Declines

Eroding Account Asset Values, Inflation, Market Volatility, Recession Fears Fuel Concerns


Washington, DC (April 27, 2022) – American workers’ and retirees’ confidence about financing a comfortable retirement has dropped significantly over the last year, returning to levels last seen in 2018, the 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey finds.

The last time the survey recorded a decline of this magnitude was in 2008, during the global financial crisis.

“After a year of economic uncertainty these sober, even somber findings should come as no surprise,” says Greenwald Research CEO Lisa Greenwald.  “High inflation and a higher cost of living, rising interest rates, a volatile stock market and more have combined to lower account values and make it harder save. A majority of those we surveyed don’t think any of this is going to get better in the next year or so and are afraid a recession is on its way. That’s coloring their outlooks for the near term and their confidence for the long-term.”

Now in its 33rd year, the Retirement Confidence Survey – a joint project of Greenwald Research and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) – is the longest-running survey of its kind. They surveyed 1,320 workers and 1,217 retirees online from January 5 through February 2, 2023. All respondents were age 25 or older. Data were weighted by age, sex, caregiver status, household income and race/ethnicity.

This year’s survey found that only about two-thirds of workers – 64% – are confident about having enough money to live comfortably in retirement, down dramatically from 73% one year ago. The number saying they are “very confident” dropped even more dramatically, from 28% to 18%.

While nearly three-quarters of retirees – 73% – are confident they can finance a comfortable retirement, that number is down from 77% a year ago. Those saying they are “very confident” dropped from 33% to 27%.

Economic and political factors that survey respondents cited as impacting their finances in retirement include:

  • 86% of workers and 79% of retirees are concerned that inflation will stay high for at least another year.
  • 80% of workers and 74% of retirees fear the economy will go into recession in the next 12 months.
  • 80% of workers and 71% of retirees fear the government will make significant changes to the American retirement system.
  • 80% of workers and 62% of retirees fear that interest rates will continue to rise.
  • 74% of workers and 65% of retirees believe the stock market will be increasingly volatile and unpredictable.
  • 65% of workers and 58% of retirees believe the stock market will be lower in 12 months than it is today.
  • 76% of workers and 55% of retirees believe housing costs will rise.
  • 54% of workers and 53% of retirees fear another public health emergency or lockdown will occur in the next 12 months.

Other key findings from the 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey include:

  • 62% of workers say their level of debt is a problem, up from 56% in 2022. 47% say their debt is negatively impacting their ability to save for retirement. Only 35% of retirees see their debt as a problem, the same level as last year. 24% say their debt is negatively impacting their ability to live comfortably in retirement.
  • Worker confidence in consistent Medicare benefits has decreased significantly, from 57% last year to 51% today. At 69%, retiree confidence in Medicare benefits is higher.
  • Just under half of workers – 49% – are confident that Social Security benefits will at least maintain their value in the future, compared to 68% of retirees.
  • 40% of workers and 58% of retirees report a decrease in their retirement account balances over the last 12 months. 77% of workers and 74% of retirees express concern about those losses.
  • Among workers who made changes to their workplace retirement plan, 37% increased their contributions and 16% switched to more conservative investments. In 2022, only 9% reported moving assets into more conservative investments.
  • 73% of workers and 65% of retirees put a higher priority on lifetime income stability than on maintaining wealth and preserving principal in retirement.

The 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey summary report is available online at

About RCS Sponsors

Greenwald Research and EBRI would like to thank the 2003 RCS sponsors who helped shape this year’s survey: American Funds/Capital Group; Bank of America; Blackrock; Columbia Threadneedle; Empower; Fidelity Investments; FINRA; Jackson National; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; Mercer; Mutual of America; Nationwide; NEFE; New York Life; PGIM; PIMCO; Principal Financial Group, and T. Rowe Price.

About Greenwald Research

Greenwald Research is a leading independent custom research firm and consulting partner to the health and wealth industries that applies creative quantitative and qualitative methods to produce knowledge that helps companies stay competitive and navigate industry change. By leveraging deep subject matter expertise and a trusted consultative approach, Greenwald offers comprehensive services for weaving rich research stories that answer strategic business questions. For 33 years, Greenwald has partnered with the Employee Benefits Research Institute to conduct the annual Retirement Confidence Survey.

About the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

The Employee Benefit Research Institute is a non-profit, independent and unbiased resource organization that provides the most authoritative and objective information about critical issues relating to employee benefit programs in the United States.

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