Ready or Not? Lifetime Income and Other Retirement Readiness Drivers

It’s well studied that factors like debt and financial uncertainty impact the way people feel about retirement and prepare for it. In this series, BlackRock explores insights from our 2021 DC Pulse research and additional work with the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) to recognize inequities and find ways to build a better retirement for all.

Saving for retirement is a decades-long endeavor with factors – both excepted and unexpected – that can affect confidence and preparedness. Even though much of the conversation has centered around amassing a nest egg, it’s also important to look at what else can be done to improve retirement readiness for all.

Recent research conducted by BlackRock as well as the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) Retirement Confidence Survey both offer insight into the factors that are holding people back from their retirement goals. It’s important to examine, because according to the EBRI data, few people say other financial goals are more important than saving for retirement.

While 2020 brought a pandemic, market volatility and job losses, retirement confidence for many remains high and steady. BlackRock’s 2021 DC Pulse survey revealed that 7 in 10 retirement plan participants felt “on track” with their savings to retire with the lifestyle they want. There’s more beneath the surface, though. A deeper look reveals that despite this rosy outlook from participants broadly, some are left behind.

A better retirement for all is an equitable one, and today’s differences across gender and racial lines are stark. For instance, BlackRock’s DC Pulse study found that women are nearly 20% less likely to report they are “on track” for retirement compared to men, with concerns around outliving their savings having major influence.

The EBRI survey also showed that both male and female Black and Hispanic people are significantly less likely to have saved for retirement at all, a trend that’s true across all income levels for those two groups, but quite significant in lower income quartiles. Even among people earning more than $75,000 a year, the EBRI data found that 89% of white people reported saving for retirement compared to 84% of Hispanic people and 78% of Black people.