Retirement Age Shifts UpwardNorth Americans appear to be more optimistic about their longevity than their retirement prospects, according to Nielsen survey gauging how people around the world plan to spend their golden years.

That's the crux of a Nielsen survey gauging how Americans and Canadians plan to spend their retirement compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world.

About 22% of Americans and Canadians expect to work past the age of 70, with 6% expecting to retire after their 80th birthday, or about two years past the nations' average lifespan, Nielsen said in a report published earlier this month. All told, Americans were about 70% more likely to expect to work past 70 as their global counterparts.

The postponement of retirement isn't just an American phenomena. The combination of longer lifespans and a global financial crisis over the past few years has made workers under 60 worldwide far less optimistic about retiring by age 70 than their older cohorts, according to Nielsen. Whether in North America, Europe, Latin America or Asia, the percentage of those over 60 who say they're financially prepared to retire is solidly in the 25% to 35% range.

"Across most countries, those under the age of 60 were less sanguine about their chances to retire in their 60s," Nielsen said in the report.

"Forced to Reconsider"

Still, the North American contingent expecting to work past 80 is three times the size of the European contingent and twice the global average, Nielsen says. The research firm's figures illustrate how events such as the real estate bust and, until recently, lackluster stock market performance has forced workers more workers to postpone retirement.

"For Baby Boomers sitting on the cusp of retirement, the Great Recession and the U.S. housing market collapse came at the worst possible time," the Nielsen report said. "Having the largest investment portfolios and large shares of net worth tied up in real estate, many Baby Boomers planning to retire in their late 50s and 60s are forced to reconsider."


Last year, more than a third of those surveyed in a Gallup poll said they expected to retire after 65, up from the 15% who said the same in 1996. Additionally, 60% of those in a separate Gallup poll last year said they had no hope of receiving any sort of Social Security benefits when they retire. According to Nielsen, about one in four Americans under 60 expect to fund their retirement with a government benefit such as Social Security, putting those in the U.S. on equal footing with Latin America and far behind Europeans in that department.

As far as post-retirement plans, North Americans are far more likely to consider activities such as volunteer work than their global counterparts, and far less likely to join a new company or start a second career, according to Nielsen.

Nielsen surveyed more than 26,000 people online in 53 countries for the poll, which took place in September.


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