Seven in 10 Americans express confidence that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, yet just 32% have calculated how much money that dream will require.

This seeming contradiction illustrates the conflicting attitudes revealed by the 12th Annual Retirement Confidence Survey of some 1,000 workers and retirees conducted in January and released Wednesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

In other findings, 37% of workers aged 20 to 39 plan to retire at age 61 or earlier, compared to 26% of employees over age 40. The majority of younger employees (56%) say they will depend on defined contribution plan investments and their own savings to finance retirement, compared to 38% of older workers. However, most respondents are unprepared for retirement, as 32% have saved less than $50,000 and 15% have saved nothing.

"It’s pretty clear that the responses reflect false confidence," states Steve Blakely, managing editor at EBRI. "A lot of people have very unrealistic expectations of how much they will need in retirement. Investment education, if not investment advice, is badly needed."

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.