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How Americans save for retirement, and how it's changed

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Chase. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

Money can be difficult to talk about, and many financial issues are complicated to tackle. That's why Chase and Vox Creative created the Five Essentials series, found here and distributed through the Vox Media Network, to explore financial fitness issues that are relevant to you. We're breaking down what's really essential to know about a topic.

New research shows that baby boomers, many of whom are parents of millennials, have been having the "money talk" with their children because they want to be more open about finances than their parents were with them. This has given millennials more ambition to retire earlier than the generations before them. In fact, according to the Chase Generational Money Talk study, millennials are starting to save for retirement 17 years earlier than their baby boomer parents did.

But how much money should they be saving? That answer has changed a lot over the years.

When the Social Security program launched in 1935 and set the retirement age at 65, conventional wisdom held that men wouldn't live past 58, and women, age 62. Today's 65-year-olds are expected to live until age 84, meaning workers have to work longer and save much more than previous generations.

The introduction of employer pensions, 401(k) plans, and other retirement plans, have helped many Americans. But unexpected events--recessions, job losses, health problems and the rising cost of living--can easily derail retirement goals. If it seems like saving for a comfortable retirement is more difficult, it's likely because the post-work stage of our lives is now longer than the retirement system anticipated.

Here's a timeline of how the American retirement system has evolved:

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This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Chase. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.


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