When it comes to your future retirement prospects, what feelings come to mind? Positive feelings about expected financial independence, or pessimistic worrying about financial hardship?
Your answer just might depend on where you are, geographically. From a global perspective, many of us in the West tend to have a different view from those in major countries in the East. A short article on the Smart Money site summarizes the differences between prevailing Western and Eastern views on retirement. The article references a survey that was done about retirement and financial planning, and was fielded in 17 countries.
The key findings are that in North America and Europe, people tend to be a more pessimistic about retirement – with many people believing that their own retirement will not be as good as that of their parents. Conversely, in Asia’s newly strong economies, people are more optimistic about having a retirement that will be better than their parents (69% in India and 62% in China, for example).
The phrase that really jumped at me about the Western view was that for people between 30 to 60, it’s generally viewed that parents are experiencing “a golden age of retirement which will not be repeated “.
My interpretation is that Westerners see standard of living declining, and Easterners see standard of living increasing – which manifests itself in different views of retirement prospects.
Personally, I like to be positive about things in general. We might not be able to choose our circumstances in an instant, but we can choose our attitude. Easier said that done sometimes, but optimism and hope – coupled with hard work – can bring great things! All this said, I have to admit that what I anecdotally hear is mostly concern as opposed to optimism here in the U.S.. In terms of the economy, jobs, saving for retirement, college expenses, etc – it’s mostly concern as instead of a confident, upbeat outlook. Frankly, in this case I feel much of the concern is justified.
I’m bursting with nationalistic pride, and want my country to get back to being the true economic superpower that it once was. Some might disagree, but I still think that long-term this is possible. Even today, our country is a place that many people are eager to come to and make money. Capitalism is a great system.
Thing is, for all of our accomplishments, we just don’t have a culture of saving money. We’ve been spenders, as evidenced by the staggering national debt. Why should we have ever gone into debt as a nation, much less have trouble paying the interest on that debt? This shows up in our personal savings rates. The article quotes China as having a 38% rate, India 35% (of GDP). The U.S.? We’re at 4%. An prior post of mine highlighted how so few people could cover a sudden, unexpected $2,000 expense – another indication of lack of savings.
Having said all this, I know that we’re still quite lucky to be here, and still do have a very good quality of life overall. But things sure don’t seem as easy for people as they might have been a generation ago. Hopefully, out of these economic conditions of recent years, the awareness of our culture of debt will be raised to the point where we as a nation expect responsible decisions made. I know I’m doing what I can to save and live within our means, and I’ll bet you are too.
My Questions for You:
What are your thoughts about your retirement prospects -are your thoughts more optimistic these days, or affected by fear of potential hardship?
Do you feel that our retirement prospects (for those of us of working age) don’t match up to the quality of retirement of a generation ago? Or, do you share the positive view that’s more commonly held in developing Eastern nations.
It would also be interesting to discuss ideas for what we can do to improve our collective situation.