Government Reform

The Public Is Conflicted Over Where to Place Responsibility for Retirement Savings

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The results from the latest Reason-Rupe poll show ostensibly conflicting results about where Americans place the primary responsibility for retirement savings and for health insurance costs during retirement.

When the questions avoid the polarizing context of "entitlement reform" or the explicit mention of Social Security, a clear majority of Americans (60 percent) believe that they are primarily responsible for saving enough money to meet their own basic expenses in retirement. Roughly a third of Americans believe they should primarily expect help from the government to meet basic expenses in retirement.

When the question becomes who "should be primarily responsible for saving enough money to purchase health insurance in retirement," just 43 percent of respondents believe they should be primarily responsible. Fifty percent believe they should primarily expect help from the government to acquire health insurance. This attitude may stem in part from the current regulatory framework, which makes it easier to obtain health insurance through employers. Thus it might not be clear to many Americans just how they would go about obtaining competitively-priced health insurance in the private market.

Despite these somewhat conflicting numbers, a substantial percentage of Americans do nonetheless believe they are primarily responsible for saving enough money to meet their own basic retirement expenses, including health insurance. This finding should prompt further discussion about reforming these massive programs, since nearly half—if not more than half—of Americans believe responsibility for retirement should lie with the individual.

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll's fieldwork. View full methodology.

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