How Accurate are Expected Retirement Savings?

Published: 2006


This paper examines the ability of workers nearing retirement to report their expected retirement savings, where retirement savings refers to funds held in savings, checking, and investment-type accounts.  Responding to such a question is likely to be difficult, even for those who are near retirement, because it requires respondents to assess when they will retire, their likely income stream between the survey date and retirement, and what portfolio choices will be made at retirement.  Based on two nationally representative surveys collected two decades apart, we find that most individuals provide some response to the question, particularly when they are allowed to provide a range.  Moreover, the responses that are given have substantial predictive power for actual retirement savings, even when compared to the savings in the initial wave.  Despite this predictive power, there is evidence that responses do not satisfy the more stringent requirements of the rational expectations hypothesis.

Key Findings