In COVID-19 crisis, older Americans are more resilient than younger generations, Edward Jones and Age Wave research finds
News Release | Aug. 4, 2020
Unique, 9,000-person, five-generation study provides a holistic view of the "New Retirement" across health, family, purpose and finances
Despite COVID-19’s severe and disproportionate impact on the health of aging adults, older Americans reported they are coping far better than younger ones, according to the Edward Jones and Age Wave study released today, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement.” The 9,000-person, five-generation study in the U.S. and Canada revealed that in the U.S. 37% of Gen Z and 27% of millennials said they have suffered mental health declines since the pandemic began, while only 15% of baby boomers and 8% of silent generation respondents said the same.
"COVID-19’s impact forever changed the reality of many Americans, yet we’ve observed a resilience among U.S. retirees in contrast to younger generations,” said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., psychologist/gerontologist and founder and CEO of Age Wave. “Older Americans tend to recognize the value of a long-term view, and so as they think about their lives, longevity and legacy, they’re able to pull from an array of experiences that help them weather current storms, feel gratitude about many aspects of their lives and still plan for the future.”
The landmark Edward Jones and Age Wave research uncovered a new definition for retirement, as far more than simply the end of work. The majority of U.S. retirees (55%) defined retirement as a whole new chapter filled with new choices, freedoms and challenges, and they do so in a more holistic way across four important areas of health, family, purpose and finance.
COVID-19's impact on family closeness and finances
COVID-19’s initial dramatic impact on the U.S. economy and personal financial situations may very well leave long-lasting implications. Reflecting a great deal of generational generosity, 24 million Americans* have provided financial support to adult children due to COVID-19, and an overwhelming 71% of retirees said they would offer financial support to their family even if it could jeopardize their own financial future. Despite COVID-19’s negative impact on finances, 67% of Americans said the pandemic has brought their families closer together. The research also revealed that 20 million Americans stopped making retirement savings contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic and only a quarter of working Americans were on track with their retirement savings prior to the pandemic1.
“We've certainly seen COVID-19's disruptive force on finances, with the pandemic influencing retirement timing and financial confidence,” said Ken Cella, Edward Jones Client Services Group Principal. “However, this cloud has brought several silver linings in terms of family closeness and important discussions about planning earlier for retirement, saving more for emergencies and even talking through end-of-life plans and long-term care costs.”
Social relationships as predictor of health and purpose
While loneliness is pervasive across all five generations, as people age, physical isolation becomes a greater health risk, as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day2, and it is linked to increased risk for heart disease and dementia3. While most retirees (76%) said they derive the greatest sense of purpose from social relationships, specifically time spent with loved ones, 72% noted that one of their biggest fears is becoming a burden on their families.
"Retirees say they miss people and purpose, not paychecks, when they retire, but 31% of new retirees are struggling to find purpose in this stage of life. They want to feel useful, not just youthful, and keep learning and growing at every age," Dychtwald added.
The study found that 89% of all Americans feel that there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of their communities and society at large.
Financial advisors as connectors and confidence builders
As Americans redefine retirement in a broader way across the four pillars, the majority of U.S. respondents felt their ideal financial advisor is a guide who can understand them and help them achieve their goals. In fact, 84% of those working with a financial advisor said that their financial advisor relationship gave them a greater sense of comfort regarding their finances during the pandemic.
Further underscoring the fundamental importance of financial security, retirees are often met by new challenges as they enter retirement. Thirty-six percent of retirees said managing money in retirement is more confusing than saving for retirement, and they want help navigating. Fifty-two percent of retirees cited healthcare costs, including long-term care, as the most common financial worry. This concern was also echoed by pre-retirees as more than two-thirds (68%) of those who plan to retire in the next 10 years said they have no idea what their healthcare and long-term care costs will be in retirement.
“Beyond finances, we can help our clients envision and truly realize a holistic retirement, which, we know includes decisions about their health, family and purpose,” said Cella. “Empathy and knowledge allow us to better serve to our clients in a human-centered way and work together to achieve what’s most important to them and their families.”
While the above findings feature a selection of respondents’ thoughts regarding the new definition of retirement, further examination of the four pillars of health, family, purpose and finances reveal their highly intertwined nature and influence in shaping retirees’ overall quality of life. For more details from The Four Pillars of the New Retirement, please visit www.EdwardJones.com/NewRetirement.
This report is based on a large-scale investigation of what it means to live well in retirement that began in November 2019. The study was conducted by Edward Jones in partnership with Age Wave and The Harris Poll.
As part of the study, The Harris Poll conducted an online, representative survey from May 21 through June 4, 2020 among more than 9,000 adults age 18+, in the US and Canada, including n=3,000 among a US general population, n=1,000 among a Canadian general population, and oversamples of approximately 500 in each of the following 10 metropolitan regions: Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, St. Louis, and Toronto. Results were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
*Estimated projections to the US population are calculated based on the 2019 Census Current Population Survey.
About Edward Jones
Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the investments offered to the location of branch offices, caters to individual investors. The firm's 19,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients with a total of $1.2 trillion in client assets under care. Visit www.edwardjones.com or the recruiting website at www.careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.
About Age Wave
Under the leadership of Founder and CEO Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., Age Wave is the nation’s foremost thought leader on population aging and its profound business, social, financial, health care, workforce, and cultural implications. Dychtwald’s long-awaited new book What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third Agewas just published (Wiley, July 15,2020). Since its inception in 1986, the firm has advised numerous non-profits and over half the Fortune 500. For more information, please visit www.agewave.com.
About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S.; tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963. The Harris Poll is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. The Harris Poll works with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Learn more at www.theharrispoll.com
1 Federal Reserve, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 - May 2019
2 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med., July 2010
3 National Institute on Aging, “Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks,” April 23, 2019.