Higher Education Employees Nearing Retirement Less Confident in Their Retirement Readiness

Current economic environment has proven especially worrisome for those 50 and older, but younger employees have gained confidence

NEW YORK (September 13, 2022) –Higher education employees ages 50 and above have become less confident they'll have enough money to live comfortably through retirement, according to a new report issued by the TIAA Institute.

The report – “High Inflation and Depressed Stock Markets: Retirement Readiness Among the Higher Education Workforce” –  is a joint study by the TIAA Institute and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). It examines retirement readiness among the full-time higher education workforce during a period of historically high inflation and depressed equity markets, finding that those nearest retirement age appear most impacted.

Eighteen percent of those age 60 and older are very confident about having enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement, 15 percentage points lower than in 2019. Among those ages 50 to 59, the percentage very or somewhat confident in their retirement income prospects dropped 15 percentage points since 2019, falling from 78% to 63%. 

In contrast, the share of younger employees who are very confident in their retirement income prospects more than doubled. Among those ages 40 to 49, the figure rose 18 percentage points from 14% up to 32%. Meanwhile, among those under 40, the percentage very confident increased from 15% to 32%.

“These findings should be viewed in the context of the macroeconomic environment when the survey was conducted, specifically, a volatile and depressed stock market and price inflation not seen in 40 years, '' said Paul Yakoboski, TIAA Institute senior economist. “Given a shorter time horizon until retirement, whenever that might be, many older individuals may view themselves as having little opportunity to recover investment losses. Even in the absence of such losses, current inflation could lead individuals nearing retirement to question their ability to maintain their desired standard of living throughout retirement.” 

A strong relationship exists between retirement advice and retirement confidence, but only 52% of retirement savers age 50 and older have received professional retirement planning and saving advice within the past two years. 

“There is clearly a need among pre-retirees for amplified education and advice during an important life stage that has intersected with challenging economic phenomena,” said Melissa Fuesting, senior survey researcher with CUPA-HR. “Advice and targeted educational materials can help pre-retirees make appropriate adjustments to their retirement saving, investing, and planning.”

See the full report “High Inflation and Depressed Stock Markets: Retirement Readiness Among the Higher Education Workforce.”


Press contact: TIAA Media Relations P888-200-4062 / Media@TIAA.org

About the TIAA Institute
The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit www.tiaainstitute.org.

About CUPA-HR
CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders. CUPA-HR has been collecting data on the higher ed workforce for more than 50 years, and we maintain one of the largest workforce databases in existence. Learn more about CUPA-HR research .

About TIAA
TIAA is a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people and thousands of institutions. It is the #1 not-for-profit retirement market provider, paid more than $6.4 billion in lifetime income to retired clients in 2021 and has nearly $1.3 trillion in assets under management (as of 3/31/2022).


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