Household Savings and Retirement: Expectations and Realizations

Published: 2006
Project ID: UM06-04


Although the adequacy of household retirement savings has been analyzed using a number of methodologies, there is little consensus regarding the extent to which individuals adequately prepare to finance their retirement. This project will shed light on the issue of savings adequacy by using an empirical approach that differs from the prior economic literature. Specifically, this project will use multiple waves of the Health and Retirement Study to answer three questions: (1) To what extent do individuals realize their expected retirement wealth? (2) Do individuals respond when savings realizations deviate from expectations? (3) Is expected retirement wealth adequate? This study builds upon a growing economic literature which shows that subjective expectations can be used to better understand economic phenomena in a variety of settings. These questions above are central to understanding how private saving supplements Social Security and pension income. The proposed project provides direct evidence regarding one of the central goals of the Social Security system: to facilitate adequate retirement preparation.