The COVID-19 pandemic shook all Americans’ long-standing concept of retirement to its core, with 69 million saying the pandemic altered their retirement timing. Despite the disproportionate effect of the virus on retirees, they reported greater optimism than other generations, with a majority (61%) indicating that the pandemic has given them more appreciation for what makes life meaningful.
According to Edward Jones and Age Wave’s latest study, "The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes," following a year of unprecedented volatility across economic markets, physical and mental health and social justice issues, 76% of Americans credit the pandemic with helping them refocus on what’s most important in life. Recently released as a follow up to the landmark study from 2020 [prnewswire.com] which explored the four pillars of living well in retirement, the study reveals Americans' well-being across health, family, purpose, and finances. In particular, the study found that the role of purpose has proven to be critical, as nearly all of retirees believe it’s important to feel useful in retirement (93%) and that purpose is key to a successful retirement (92%). Many derive this sense of purpose from family and friends, with 67% of retirees indicating that spending time with loved ones provide them with the greatest source of meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
The long-lasting effects of COVID-19 have expanded to the widening gender gap. When it comes to financial security, women report resilience has been harder hit than men’s (35% vs. 28%), and 31% of women active in the labor force said the pandemic hurt their job security, compared to only 23% of men. Among pre-retirees, the difference among female and male pre-retirees is even more glaring, with 39% of women vs. 20% of men saying the pandemic hurt their job security. Yet, inspiring hope, there are positive signs for American’s financial lives as most respondents (70%) have seen the pandemic as a financial wake-up call, saying it has caused them to pay more attention to their long-term finances.