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Polling Shows Americans Want Retirement Policy Reform

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Read the full issue brief (CAP Action)

Americans are deeply worried about their retirement security and are calling on elected officials to take action. In poll after poll, the public has made clear that their ability to afford a comfortable retirement is among their primary concerns and that they believe retirement reform should be a much higher priority in Washington. Unfortunately, outside of Social Security, retirement policy has rarely been a topic of political debate, and in recent years, little has been achieved in the way of implementing real change.

As this review of polling on retirement security shows, however, the time for action is now. Among its most important findings are:

  • In the wake of the Great Recession, Americans’ confidence in their ability to save enough for retirement has reached record lows.
  • A majority of the public believes the existing retirement system is under stress and requires immediate reform.
  • Americans think retirement security is a responsibility to be shared by workers, employers, and the government.
  • Support for retirement reform is strong among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.
  • Americans want to strengthen Social Security and do not want to cut benefits.
  • To supplement Social Security, Americans are open to a variety of potential fixes to the current private system, ranging from small alterations to more significant restructuring. The public seems most supportive of approaches that combine elements of 401(k)s and pensions, such as the Secure, Affordable, Flexible, and Efficient, or SAFE, Retirement Plan, developed by the Center for American Progress, or the USA Retirement Funds Plan proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Policymakers should listen to their constituents and begin taking action to improve all parts of the three-legged stool of retirement—Social Security, workplace retirement plans, and private savings. Without such changes, the public’s anxiety over retirement may only worsen; but more importantly, an ever-increasing number of Americans may find themselves approaching the end of their working years unprepared for what lies ahead.

Read the full issue brief (CAP Action)

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund, women's issues)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention, the National Security Agency)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (energy and environment, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org