Retirees in the United States are a bit more anxious about the quality of life in their golden years than their counterparts in Canada, according to a study by TD Waterhouse.
“I wasn’t surprised in light of the turmoil in the U.S.,” said Patricia Lovett-Reid, a senior vice president at TD Waterhouse, who worked on the TD Waterhouse Couples and Retirement poll, which examined the attitudes and behaviors of 1,000 retirees in the U.S, and another 1,002 in Canada.
While the United States has been hit hard by rising unemployment and a rash of home foreclosures, Canada hasn’t seen that level of economic upheaval, Lovett-Reid said.
The report delivered one key message, she said: “Canadian retirees are faring significantly better than their U.S. counterparts. The recession has had a bigger impact on U.S. retirees.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “seasonally adjusted initial claims were 473,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week.” Last month, the U.S. economy lost 20,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.7%. The Canadian unemployment rate has declined to 8.3%, according to the Toronto Star.
Lovett-Reid and other economic observers attribute Canada’s relative stability to a more conservative banking industry, a stronger social safety net and a staid approach to investing by consumers.
Even so, retirees in both countries have similar concerns about retirement, especially since both nations are looking at large numbers of boomers getting ready to leave the workforce in coming years.
“They’re not looking to just sustain a lifestyle that is substandard,” Lovett-Reid said. “They want to have a choice.”
But only 47% of the U.S. respondents were living their ideal retirement life while 70% of the Canadians were. And, of those Canadian retirees who are married or in a common-law relationship, 51% had the same vision for their retirement as their partner compared with 46% for the U.S. respondents.
However, respondents in both countries believed they should have started saving for retirement earlier. “Canadians and Americans still in the workforce can learn something from this survey,” Lovett-Reid said.
The top advice from 53% of the U.S. retirees was to take better care of their health. And those from both side of the border, 28% of Canadians and 27% of those in the U.S. said to live below one’s means in preparation for retirement.
In terms of saving money for retirement, 39% of the Canadians surveyed and 27% of those in the U.S. said that a company-matching program such as a 401(k) plan in the U.S. or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan in Canada would make it the employer of choice, Lovett-Reid said.
“Realistically, we are going to retire and we can’t turn to the government to fund us in retirement,” she said. “Governments may be there to supplement it but not to fully fund it.”