Workers' Ignorance of Retirement Benefits

TitleWorkers' Ignorance of Retirement Benefits
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsEkerdt, DJ, Hackney, KJ
JournalThe Gerontologist
KeywordsDemographics, Education, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Insurance, Methodology, Other, Pensions, Social Security

PURPOSE: This study considered the extent of workers' unfamiliarity with retirement benefits, a problem that could compromise informed retirement planning. DESIGN AND METHODS: Among workers in the 1992 Health and Retirement Study, we examined the frequency of don't know responses to question series about employer pensions, health insurance, and Social Security. RESULTS: Eligible workers readily offered responses about the shared, public details of pension plans, but knowledge about personal pension wealth was lacking for one third of persons in defined benefit plans and for one fifth of those in defined contribution plans. Among household financial respondents, 14 did not know about health insurance continuation after retirement, and 52 could not offer an expected Social Security amount. Such nonresponse was patterned by proximity to retirement and by social and occupational factors. IMPLICATIONS: More than a problem of missing data, these findings argue for a theoretical reconsideration of the role of financial knowledge in retirement behavior. Ignorance of benefits is probably less a problem of disclosure than of workers' inattention to available information.

Endnote Keywords

Female/Human/Insurance, Health/Knowledge/Middle Age/Pensions/Social Security/Support, U.S. Government--PHS/United States

Endnote ID


Citation Key6795