Younger people are the least likely to put money away for retirement, according to a Bank of Montreal survey, "because in all probability, their retirement date is the furthest away." Despite this, they have "overly optimistic" goals of retiring early.
Almost half (41%) of Canadians between 18 and 35 plan to retire before they turn 60, while 57% say they'll stop working between 60 and 69. Boomers over 55, however, don't have such lofty expectations: Only 8% expect to call it quits by 60.
"The fact that younger adults are the least prepared ... should not be overlooked. Logically speaking, the earlier individuals start to save for retirement, the greater the potential for ensuring future financial security," the BMO report said.
They key to tackling this problem is to change young people's attitudes about retirement, BMO suggests. While 82% of adults under 35 agreed that retirement planning is important, and 52% have some savings in an RRSP, very few actually think about retirement in detail.
Just 10% said they thought a lot about how much money they need to save. Fewer than 5% had thought about how long their retirement might last.
"In the absence of visualizing one's retirement, it is impossible to accurately forecast the amount of money that might be required, and for how long. Not knowing these details may be an indication that a person does not have a strong attitude towards retirement," the study's authors noted.
"Judging by the low financial preparedness scores found by the research, their future prosperity may be currently at risk. It is important to help this younger generation - and soon - as it is clear that the earlier they start to save for retirement, the more financial security they are likely to have in the long run."
The results are based on a sample of 1,000 Canadians polled in February by Leger Marketing. The margin of error is 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.