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Savings Between Cohorts: The Role of Planning

Annamaria Lusardi () and Jason Beeler
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Jason Beeler: Mercer Oliver Wyman

Working Papers from University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center

Abstract: We compare the saving behavior of two cohorts: the Early Baby Boomers (EBB, age 51-56 in 2004) and the HRS cohort (age 51-56 in 1992). We find that EBB have accumulated more wealth than the previous cohort but they benefited from a large increase in house prices, which lifted the wealth of many home-owners. In fact, there are many families among EBB, particularly those headed by respondents with low education, low income, and minorities, which have less wealth than the previous cohort. Lack of wealth can be traced to lack of retirement planning. Notwithstanding the many initiatives aimed at fostering planning in the 1990s, a large portion of EBB still do not plan for retirement even though most respondents are close to it. The effect of planning is remarkably similar between the two cohorts; those who do not plan accumulate much lower amounts of wealth - from 20 to 45 percent depending on the location in the wealth distribution- than those who do plan. Thus, for both the EBB and the HRS cohort, lack of planning is tantamount to lack of saving irrespective of the many changes in the economy between 1992 and 2004.

Date: 2006-07
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