Most U.S. investors don't think when to retire
Even among those aged 50 and older, only 39% have thought about it a lot, while 29% have thought about it only a little or not at all.
A majority of those aged 50 and older have not thought a lot about the best age to retire, but the 39% who have done so is nearly double the percentage of investors aged 18-49 (20%) who have given the matter a lot of thought.
Non-retired investors' responses also differ greatly based on how much they have invested.
Of those who currently have less than $100,000 in investments, 19% have thought a lot about the best age to retire, while 52% have thought about it a little or not thought about it. Among those with $100,000 or more invested, 37% have thought a lot about when to retire.
These data come from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, conducted February 10-19. The index is a survey of U.S. investors who report having $10,000 or more in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or a self-directed IRA or 401(k).
"Non-retired investors" includes all respondents in the survey who identify themselves as not retired, including students, homemakers and those seeking work.
Among retired investors included in the survey, more than half (52%) say they wish they had started to think about the best age to retire earlier.
Sixty-three percent of non-retired investors want to retire before they reach the age of 67 - the minimum age to receive full Social Security benefits.
But about one in five (23%) don't want to retire and start collecting Social Security benefits until they are at least 70 years old.
Respondents' average expected retirement age of 65 is also the age non-retired investors name most often (27%) as the best age to retire and has a long history as the traditional retirement age.
Retirement pension plans, whether from the government or a private workplace, typically started at age 65 throughout most of the 20th century, and Social Security benefits kicked in for all beneficiaries at age 65 from the program's beginning in 1935 until 1983.
Non-retired investors aged 18-49 are more likely to favor retiring before they reach 65 (38%) than are older non-retired investors (23%).
One factor explaining this difference is that there are more investors who have already retired among those aged 50 and older than among those aged 18-49. ■