Poll: Seniors See Bleak Future for Their Children, Grandchildren’s Retirement Future

By Chris Johnson | November 17, 2010 | 4:14 AM EST

In this Aug. 31, 2010 photograph, a home with a sold sign is shown in Palo Alto, Calif. Americans' wealth shrank in the spring for the first time since early 2009 as financial turmoil eroded stock portfolios.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(CNSNews.com) - Many retirees have a bleak view of the retirement future for their children and grandchildren, according to a poll conducted by Protect Seniors.org.

The retiree health care advocacy group released a poll on Friday showing that many retirees do not think that their kids or grandkids will have the same opportunities that they did in pursuing the “American Dream” and then retiring on their earnings.      

According to the poll of 1, 996 retirees, 83.8 percent agreed with the statement, “I have been afforded the opportunity to live and participate in the ‘American Dream.’”

However, only 1.7 percent said it would be “easier” in the future for their children to achieve the same opportunities provided by the American Dream, while 89.2 percent said it would be “more difficult for my children to achieve” those opportunities.

Only 47 percent of the retirees surveyed said they think their children will achieve the American Dream. The other 52.3 percent said, “No.”

Most of the participants in the poll did not foresee their children being able to afford to retire: 65.6 percent of the retirees polled answered the question, “Do you think your children will be able to afford retirement?” with the answer, “No.”

The retirees’ outlook was less hopeful for their grandchildren.

When asked, “Do you anticipate that the opportunities understood to be part of the ‘American Dream’ will be – the same, easier or more difficult – to achieve for your grandchildren,” 75.9 percent of the retirees polled said it would be “more difficult.”

As for their grandchildren being able to afford retirement, 70.4 percent said, “No.”

Thomas Mackell Jr., former chairman of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank and a former adviser on the White House Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), joined with ProtectSeniors.org in conducting the poll.

In a press release about the survey, Mackell said, “This is a real tragedy. In the past it was a given that children would enjoy better career and lifestyle opportunities than their parents. That chapter in American life appears to be ending.”

Mackell also expressed worry about what will happen to middle-aged workers who are still several years away from retirement.

“Will future retirees have a roof over their head?” he asked in the statement. “Will those in their 50s be able to recoup losses they’ve suffered in their retirement investments in recent years or will they have to work until the day they die?”

Mackell blamed the discouraging outlook on workers who are not offered benefit packages and must rely on their own shaky investments.

“This sentiment reflects the reality of what has been happening for decades,” he said. “As defined benefit pensions are rapidly disappearing from the retirement landscape, there is an over-reliance on stock-backed 401K plans, which have all the economic stability of a slot machine.”

On its Web site, ProjectSeniors.org describes its mission as follows: “[T]o concentrate on one issue: passage of legislation that will make it illegal for a corporation to take away the health benefits earned by their retirees, which were promised in lieu of salary or hourly wages, and vacations.”

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