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Older Americans: How they are faring in the recession
Date:9/17/2009

WASHINGTON, DC---Older Americans have weathered the financial crisis relatively well, although many now expect to work longer than they did just a year ago, according to a University of Michigan study released on Capitol Hill today (Sept. 16).

The study is based on data from 4,412 older Americans collected in April and May of this year in a special Internet survey of respondents of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of Americans age 51 and older conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and funded by the National Institute on Aging.

"We asked the same older workers what the chances were that they would still be working full time after age 65, and they went up from 47 percent to 57 percent between 2008 and 2009---a very rapid change after a long period of stability," said ISR economist David Weir, director of the Health and Retirement Study. The chances of working past 62 went up from 60 percent to 65 percent.

Weir presented the findings today (Sept. 16) at a breakfast on Capitol Hill held to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Institute, the largest academic social research and survey organization in the world.

"This study is the first to show a clear change in work expectations among the same group of older Americans," Weir said. "The findings provide compelling evidence that people have changed their retirement plans as a result of the financial crisis."

The survey found what Weir called an "historically unprecedented" exposure to the stock market, with 62 percent reporting stock holdings in 401(k)s, IRAs, mutual funds, or other vehicles. Reported losses ranged from 20 percent in IRAs and 401(k)s to 25 percent in mutual funds, and 30 percent in stock in single companies.

The survey also found that nearly a quarter of older Americans reported a decline in the value of their home. Slightly less than half still have home mortgages, and about 7 percent of these r
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Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
734-647-9069
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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