Data and Research

Americans Want to Save for Retirement and for Survivors

Saving for retirement and protecting their families in case of death is important to Americans across generations. 

By Tara Cantore | January 11, 2012
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According to the Multi-Generational Views on Family financial Obligations: A MetLife Survey of Baby Boomers and Members of Generations X and Y, nearly four in five (78%) survey respondents believe there is an obligation to provide for a surviving spouse if one dies unexpectedly. More than half (52%) believe in leaving something for younger children, typically enough to carry them through at least part of college (55%). Six in 10 (63% of Gen Y and Gen X respondents) think providing for children is important, compared to 38% of Boomers.

Most Americans also believe that children have some obligation to help their aging parents financially if necessary, though many parents (42%) say they wouldn’t accept money from their children. More than six in 10 (62%) believe children should call their parents at least once a week to see how they are doing; 58% say children should have a parent live with them for health or economic reasons (50%). Forty-six percent say they should provide financial support to their elder parents or in-laws if there is a need.

Even given the desire of Americans to leave enough money if they were to die unexpectedly, 41% with life insurance coverage say their coverage falls short or aren’t sure they are covered adequately. Gen Xers are most likely to believe they have inadequate coverage (40%), compared to 28% of Boomers and 31% in Gen Y.

“Americans have a strong desire to help their families financially, but their generosity is not unbounded,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “While the research shows money provided to help with specific financial issues is a reflection of love and caring, not a familial mandate or obligation, parents and children are not prepared to give in all instances.”