How Much Income Do Retirees Actually Have?
The brief’s key findings are:
- Recent research has re-documented that the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) understates retirement income.
- Some have wondered if this problem also applies to other surveys and calls into question decades of research that suggest many are ill-prepared for retirement.
- To answer this question, the analysis compared estimates from five commonly used national surveys to administrative data from the IRS and Social Security.
- This comparison shows that:
- the CPS continues to substantially understate retirement income, but
- the other four surveys – the SCF, HRS, SIPP, and PSID – track closely with administrative data, and
- estimates of retirement preparedness using a reliable survey find that roughly half of older households may fall short in retirement.