The new retirement

Retirement today means a new life chapter that you get to write – so say the majority of today’s retirees in recent studies from Edward Jones and Age Wave called “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement” and "The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes."

 A retirement-aged couple enjoy a hike on a trail in mountains.

The four pillars of the new retirement: Tracking update with a spotlight on family

Our latest report continues to track the pulse of American sentiments during the pandemic and provides an update on how they are faring across all four pillars that impact the quality of life in retirement: health, family, purpose and finances.

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say the pandemic has made them think more about the kind of legacy they want to leave behind.

View Fall 2021 Report

The four pillars of the new retirement: What a difference a year makes

This study builds on the landmark study from 2020 which explored the four pillars of living well in retirement – health, family, purpose and finances. This new study reveals how the timing and funding of retirement are being adjusted, shining a spotlight on the importance of purpose and contribution post-work, and describes what Americans now say are the most critical aspects of both the financial and non-financial elements of comprehensive retirement planning.

76% of Americans credit the pandemic with helping them "refocus on what's more important in life."

View 2021 Report
 A retirement-aged couple check their retirement account on their laptop in their kitchen.

The four pillars of the new retirement

Our study surveyed 9,000 North Americans across five generations and identified four areas (dubbed the Four Pillars) that impact the quality of life in retirement: health, family, purpose and finances. Achieving your ideal retirement requires thought and action about each of these pillars.

Most retirees wish they had done a better job planning for the financial (61%) and non-financial (54%) aspects of retirement.2

View 2020 Report

Explore the four pillars

While yesterday’s retirement often focused on the end of work and winding down, today’s retirees see themselves as having more freedom – freedom from many work and family responsibilities, and freedom to explore new options and pursue new interests. Are you confident that your retirement plan is ready for your idea of retirement?

Pillar 1: Health

Part of what’s new about retirement is a longer lifespan and more years in this life stage. Good health offers choices. Unfortunately, most adults spend 10 years in poor health. The most feared condition in America is Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

90% of Americans older than 50 say that being healthy is about being able to do the things you want.1

 A retirement-aged man rides his bicycle down a main road.

Pillar 2: Family

Family is the greatest source of satisfaction, support and purpose. On the one hand, adults 50+ worry about becoming a burden on their families. On the other hand, they are willing to offer financial support to family regardless of how it affects their future.

72% of retirees say being a burden to their family is one of their top fears, but one in four Americans older than 65 have not discussed their end-of-life care preferences with anyone at all.1

 A grandfather helps his young granddaughter ride her bike through a park.

Pillar 3: Purpose

Retirees say their greatest source of purpose is from spending time with loved ones. They also value learning and growing. Yet now, with more than seven hours a day of free time, one in three new retirees struggles to find purpose in retirement.

89% of Americans feel there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of others.1

 A grandfather helps his young granddaughter pick up trash in a park.

Pillar 4: Finances

The role of money in retirement is to provide security and freedom. Over half of retirees wish they had budgeted more for unexpected expenses. When it comes to the unexpected, the cost of health care is more worrisome than a recession.

Two-thirds of Americans who plan to retire in the next 10 years say they have no idea what their health and long-term care costs will be in retirement.1

 A couple check their Edward Jones finances on their laptop in their home office.

More resources

A man and his two young grandchildren pose for a photograph.

Planning your estate

Learn how proper estate planning can protect you and your family.

Learn More

Insurance and annuities

We offer insurance and annuities to help protect you, your family and your financial goals.

Learn More
A young woman calculates her finances at her kitchen table, documents, notebooks and a laptop open in front of her.

Your physical, emotional and financial wellness

We understand planning for the future is about more than saving and your financial health.

Learn More

Important information:

1 The Edward Jones and Age Wave Thought Leadership Study, "The Four Pillars of the New Retirement," 2020.