Four in 10 workers are planning to delay their retirement, according to a survey of 9,100 employees by Towers Watson. Sixty-eight percent of older workers said they were making the delay to keep healthcare coverage, and 61% blamed the decline in their 401(k).

In addition, a majority are prepared to spend less in retirement, 34% are increasing their monthly savings and 63% are actively paying off debt in order to have greater peace of mind about their future retirement and health benefits. By comparison, in 2009, only 19% were increasing their monthly savings and 33% were paying off debt.

Fifty-six percent said they would be willing to have an investment for a guaranteed retirement benefit deducted from their paycheck, compared with 46% in 2009.

“The economic crisis has had a deep effect on employees’ attitudes toward retirement and especially on risk,” said Towers Watson Senior Retirement Consultant David Speier. “Despite the signs that some employees are saving more, spending less and reducing debt as the economy stabilizes, workers continue to have a fear that they won’t be able to afford retirement, and that will have significant implications on companies’ ability to plan their future workplace needs.”

“Older workers are possibly settling for a lower standard of living in retirement,” added Kevin Wagner, another Towers Watson senior retirement consultant.

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