Young people in Singapore worry their parents do not save enough for retirement – with good reason: Survey

On average, the parents surveyed started to save and plan for retirement at 36 years old, though they expected to retire at 63.
On average, the parents surveyed started to save and plan for retirement at 36 years old, though they expected to retire at 63.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Only one in every five youth in Singapore believes their parents have enough personal savings to finance their retirement, while merely 15 per cent trust that their parents have planned for retirement such that they need not worry about them in their golden years.

This is according to a Nielsen research commissioned by insurance cooperative NTUC Income and released on Monday (Aug 27), which covered more than 400 parents aged between 30 and 55, and some 200 youth between the ages of 19 and 25.

On track with these findings, the parents surveyed set aside only about 35 per cent, or about $1,146 monthly, of the amount they themselves perceived they needed for retirement, which was $3,314 a month.

On average, the parents surveyed started to save and plan for retirement at 36 years old, though they expected to retire at 63. Worryingly, 67 per cent of parents indicated that they expect to outlive their savings, and would not have enough money to last through retirement, given a life expectancy of about 83 in Singapore.

The survey also found that two-thirds or 66 per cent of the youth have factored in the cost of looking after their retired parents - but only 8 per cent were very confident of supporting them financially.

In particular, 70 per cent of them foresaw downgrading their lifestyle to care for their parents in future. This included settling for a smaller home, or giving up driving a car.

The youth also said they would indulge less in personal hobbies and interests (48 per cent), make career-related sacrifices such as taking up extra jobs or giving up local or overseas job opportunities (44 per cent), and even delay marriage (25 per cent) to help financially support their retired parents, if needed. 

Interestingly, while 66 per cent of the parents polled were most concerned about having insufficient savings and being unable to afford healthcare, 90 per cent of them were still willing to give up their retirement savings for their children's education and development needs.

For parents, the key motivation to prioritise their children's future over theirs was to empower their children with the necessary academic qualifications and life skills to level the playing field, so that they could lead a comfortable life in today's competitive world.

As a result, parents continued to cite children's education and development needs as their top financial priority (86 per cent) and placed having enough money to retire second (65 per cent). Nonetheless, many of them were also concerned that they may "become a burden" to their children in terms of living and healthcare expenses. 

While more than 80 per cent of the parents polled had started saving or planning for retirement, only 6 per cent of them were confident of maintaining their current lifestyle when they retire. Among the parents surveyed, 41 per cent still looked to increase their retirement funds only when their expenses on children were reduced in the near future.

On this note, NTUC Income chief marketing officer Marcus Chew noted that inadequate retirement planning will have adverse implications for both parents and children.

"Eighty per cent of the youth surveyed agreed that parents should save for their retirement and spend less on tuition and enrichment fees. This becomes a more pertinent point to consider when it is shared against the backdrop that 60 per cent of the youth surveyed indicated that they were financially unprepared, and would feel helpless if unforeseen circumstances were to happen to their parents."

Added Mr Chew: "We have no doubt that by investing in children, parents are fostering a better future for them. However, parents also must recognise that securing their own financial future is as significant in empowering their children to be future-ready.

"In this regard, we believe that planning for retirement is one of the best gifts that parents can offer our children."