Study Shows Retirees Become More Pessimistic About the Market as They Age

A new study shows that as people age, they become more pessimistic about the stock market and the economy as a whole, and actually spend less “just as many can start enjoying their life’s savings,” according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Study author Matt Fellowes, former chief executive of Morningstar subsidiary HelloWallet, says that as we age “our ability to reliably anticipate the future weakens,” and even people who have saved carefully end up not enjoying retirement as they should.

Fellowes argues that this isn’t necessarily a revelation. “We have known for a long time that people become more risk-averse as they age and for very good reason,” citing the potential for unexpected expenses as a source of concern that squelches spending.

The study examined responses to University of Michigan surveys of consumers (from 1978 to 2014), which showed that people over 64 gave the U.S. stock market a better than 50% chance of rising in only one of the 12 years between 2002 and 2014. Younger respondents, however, gave the market a “better than even change of appreciating in 10 out of those 12 years,” the article says, adding that the S&P 500 rose in all but two years in the survey period.

According to Santa Clara University finance professor Meir Statman, the article says, people who have a good amount of savings have trouble changing the frugal behavior that created the next egg in the first place.