Millennials Favor Private Accounts for Social Security Even if Benefit Cuts to Current Seniors Required


Reason-Rupe has a new survey and report out on millennials—find the report here

Millennials aren't optimistic about Social Security: 53% say Social Security is "unlikely" to exist when they are 67 years old, while 45 percent say it probably will remain.

But if it does exist at that time, even fewer millennials believe government will provide them with the same level of benefits that today's seniors receive. Only 34 percent say they are confident that government will provide them with the same level of retirement benefits as it does for today's retirees; 64 percent say they are not confident.

Education decreases the likelihood one believes Social Security will continue in the future. A majority (54%) of those with high school degrees or less expect Social Security to exist when they retire, compared to 36 percent of college graduates.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of white millennials say Social Security is unlikely to remain in the future. In contrast, 55 percent of African-American, Latino, and Asian millennials instead say it's likely to continue. Nevertheless, strong majorities of all race/ethnic groups expect that government will not provide the same level of retirement benefits to them as it does for current retirees.

Millennials' lack of confidence perhaps explains why 73 percent support "changing the Social Security program so younger workers can invest their Social Security taxes in private retirement accounts. "

But even after learning that transitioning younger workers to private accounts would require reducing benefits to current seniors, a slim majority (51%) continues to favor to private accounts, while 45 percent oppose.

When it comes to private accounts, there are not significant differences across race/ethnicity but there are meaningful partisan differences. Sixty-three percent of Republicans and a plurality of independents (49%) favor private retirement accounts, even if it reduces benefits to current seniors, but a plurality (50%) of Democrats oppose.

Millennials' underlying values help explain their Social Security policy preferences. Among those whohighly endorse meritocratic fairness, 61 percent favor private retirement accounts. Conversely, among those least favorable toward meritocratic fairness, 55 percent oppose private 83 Table of Contents retirement accounts.[1] Similarly, among those who believe wealth and poverty are primarily within the control of the individual, 57 percent support private retirement accounts.[2] Fifty-three percent of those who believe wealth and poverty are primarily due to external factors oppose privatizing Social Security. In other words, millennials who believe in self-determination and meritocracy are more likely to think individuals should be more responsible for their own retirement.

[1] See report, page 76, https://reason.com/assets/db/14048862817887.pdf

[2] See report, page 66, https://reason.com/assets/db/14048862817887.pdf

To learn more about millennials, check out Reason-Rupe's new report.