African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Caucasians in the U.S. have more similarities than differences when it comes to how they spend, save and think about finances and retirement, according to a new study from the ING Retirement Research Institute.

Individuals across all groups generally see saving for retirement as a daunting task. They cite insufficient income and debt as the leading barriers to their ability to save. And while the vast majority of Americans in each group say they plan to retire, most have not formally calculated their retirement needs.

Within these and other general patterns of thinking and behavior, however, lie varying degrees of cultural differences, according to the findings. For example, while the intention to retire is uniform across the board, more Asians and Hispanics, 31% and 30%, respectively, hope to retire younger than 65. Whites are the least likely to want to retire younger than 65, with only one in four saying so.

The study found that Asians generally demonstrate better financial behaviors. Asians are more likely than any other group to be contributing to defined contribution plans, have the greatest average account balances and the highest retirement plan contribution rates, for example. They also beat other groups in savings amassed outside their employers’ retirement plans. Asians have an average of $70,000 in outside savings, compared with whites averaging $64,000, Hispanics $48,000, and African Americans $43,000.

African Americans also had distinct cultural differences, according to the findings. They are the most likely to report that debt is a significant barrier to their ability to save for retirement. More than one in three African Americans, 35%, report holding a student loan, more than any other group and more than double the percent of Asians carrying student debt. In addition, African Americans carry considerable consumer debt, averaging $6,423, second to whites, who averaged $6,700.

Another cultural difference centered on the expectation that employers provide financial education. Hispanics, Asians and African Americans—more so than whites—had this expectation. More than half of the Hispanics (57%), Asians (57%) and African Americans (56%) said they expected their employers to do more to help them understand how to reach their retirement goals. Only 43% of Whites said they did.

Other cultural differences discussed in the study include:

• Hispanics are more likely to find retirement planning to be a daunting task.

• African Americans most heavily plan on life insurance proceeds for their heirs.

• African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are somewhat more likely to be covered by a traditional pension plan than are whites.

The study examined the attitudes and activities of 4,050 adults age 25-69 with a household income of $40,000 or higher, full-time employed, who are white, African American, Hispanic or Asian.

Margarida Correia writes for Bank Investment Consultant.


Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Bank Investment Consultant content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access