the dollar vigilante blog

Death: The New Retirement For US Citizens

[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Berwick]

I thought about calling this article, "Retirement: The New Heaven" (for US citizens at least), but found it too opaque.  So, I simplied.

Retirement is a "20th century relic," according to Wells Fargo's annual surveys on retirement. 

The bank finds year-after-year that middle class Americans anticipate they will work until illness or death. If this trend continues, respondents will indicate they will be forced to work from the grave. That's why we highly urge you to join the record number of citizens contributing to the brain drain of US society.

In the fall of 2011, Harris Interactive found that a quarter (25%) of middle class Americans say they will "need to work until at least age 80" to live comfortably in retirement. That number was at 34% in the 2013 survey. 

Is death the new retirement?

The retirement crisis in the US is well-known, and Wells Fargo's 2013 annual retirement study of the middle-class (income $25,000 - $100,000) illustrates this well, consisting this year of a simple question among others: do you expect to work until death?

"This is the first time we asked if people thought they would work until they die or become too sick," said Laurie Nordquist, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans surveyed believe they will work until they fall ill or die. This means that just under two in five US citizens believe they won't retire. Ever.

The questions are based on a larger trend uncovered in the annual Wells Fargo survey on retirement: That 80 is the new 65.

Fifty-nine percent surveyed say their main financial concern is everyday bills. Forty-two percent told Wells that it is impossible to pay them and save for retirement.

The survey also found that 75% of middle-class American's have no confidence in the stock market as a way to plan for retirement. This is true for both the young and old.

Respondents in their 20s are most skeptical of the stock market, as 80% say they are not confident about investing in stocks.

Wells Fargo asked what the young would do if given $5,000 to invest. Most said they'd put it into a savings account.

The Stock Market: Slightly Better Odds Than Vegas

The survey also found that 7% of Americans "strongly agree" that gambling in Las Vegas is as good an idea as investing in the stock market. 27% of Americans generally agree with the statement.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they have so few assets there is no reason for them to have a plan for retirement, with 25% saying they don't know how to create one.

The 2013 survey continues a trend.

Three-fourths (74%) of middle class Americans in the 2011 survey expected to work into retirement, with 39% of all respondents  needing to work into retirement to make ends meet or maintain their current lifestyles.

The 2011 survey found that, among middle class Americans from 40-59, 54% believe they will "need to work," while 34% of those ages 25 to 39 believe they will. 

Only 25% of those between the ages of 40-59 say they will work in retirement because they "want to." Forty-five percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 39 believe they will work in retirement because they wish to.

Forty-seven percent of Americans believe they will do "similar work" to their pre-retirement years, with 42% saying they will work in a position that requires "less responsibility"; i.e. less money.

That the plurality of middle class Americans expect to work well into "retirement" - and even to the grave -  has serious social and economic implications for the US. Questions arise, such as will aging Americans - who have feasted upon GMO corn and chemical-laden meats their whole lifelong - be physically and mentally able to work later into their retirement ages?

Since the earliest parts of the 20th century, and quite likely beforehand, US citizens anticipated working until they were 65, and thereafter retiring with an employer-paid pension plan. Defined-benefit pensions don't happen in the private sector these days and government employees are receiving them less often, as well.

And so, their backup plan?

Work themselves to death.

A minor caveat: those who read the TDV Newsletter, in my opinion, will fare slightly, if not much, much better. 

Comments or questions? Email us at and we may use your email in our Feedback Friday each week.


Anarcho-Capitalist.  Libertarian.  Freedom fighter against mankind’s two biggest enemies, the State and the Central Banks.  Jeff Berwick is the founder of The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of TDV Media & Services and host of the popular video podcast, Anarchast.  Jeff is a prominent speaker at many of the world’s freedom, investment and gold conferences as well as regularly in the media including CNBC, CNN and Fox Business.

To post anonymously, click the NAME field then check the "I'd rather post as guest" box when it appears.

back to top