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Survey Reveals New Anxiety Index

August 9, 2012

Across party lines, voters want more information on candidates’ plans to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

In the November elections, a key group of voters – non-retired baby boomers ages 50-64 – are driven by economic anxieties that extend well beyond the single issue of jobs, according to the results of a new series of surveys by AARP. All voters age 50+ want the candidates to better explain their plans for Social Security and Medicare, which will help them determine their votes.

50+ Voters’ Financial Outlook: Dissatisfied and Anxious

The particular pressures facing baby boomer voters – across party lines – are reflected in a new “Anxiety Index,” which measures their worries on issues including prices rising faster than incomes (75% worry somewhat or very often about this), health expenses (62%), not having financial security in retirement (73%) and paying too much in taxes (71%). By comparison, 32% of these boomer voters regularly worry about being able to find a full-time job with benefits or keep up with their mortgage or rent (30%), issues that are more widely discussed as leading economic issues for voters in the coming election.

“We know the issue of jobs is very important to voters age 50-plus, but any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president. “For these voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ are largely the same thing.”

Non-retired boomer voters are pessimistic about retirement. Almost three-in-four (72%) believe they will have to delay retirement, and almost two-in-three (65%) worry they won’t have enough to retire. Half of these voters (50%) don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire. They overwhelmingly (59%) believe the recent economic downturn will force them to rely more on Social Security and Medicare.

Anxiety about retirement security is a main driver for all voters 50+. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) of retired voters 50+ worry about prices rising faster than their incomes, and almost half (48%) worry about having unaffordable health expenses, despite the relative security provided by Medicare. Only four-in-ten (42%) African-American voters 50+ are confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement. Hispanic voters 50+ overwhelmingly say that the recent economic downturn negatively impacted their personal circumstances (84%) and will force them to rely more on Social Security and Medicare (69%).

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