Baby Boomer Retirement Security: The Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth

Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract —This paper compares wealth holdings across two cohorts of the Health and Retirement Study: the early Baby Boomers surveyed in 2004, and individuals in the same age group in 1992. We find that levels and patterns of total net worth have changed relatively little over time, though Boomers will rely more on housing equity than their predecessors. Most importantly, planners in both cohorts approached retirement with much higher wealth levels and display higher financial literacy than non-planners. Instrumental variable estimates show that planning behavior can explain the differences in savings and why some people near retirement with very little or no wealth.