The intention to save for retirement: the influence of attitudes and subjective norms

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

America's population is aging. People are living longer and medical advances continue to make that true. Many citizens count on social security as a major source of retirement income. Future retirees will find that there will be fewer workers to support them and unless the nation stops borrowing from the social security fund to finance the deficit, there will be less money for retirees. All of this means that it is important for individuals to save for retirement. Martin Fishbein developed the Behavioral Intention Model to explain various behaviors. According to the model, attitude and subjective norm explain the variation in the intention to behave a certain way and there is a high correlation between intention and behavior when using this model. Indirect measures of attitude and subjective norm increase understanding of these variables. The Fishbein model and an extended version of it, to which demographic variables were added, were tested in this study. Five hundred Virginia Tech classified employees received the mail survey instrument, which was based upon Dillman's specifications, in June 1988. A 74.6% response was received. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlations, t-tests, multiple regression, and path analysis. While the Fishbein model accounted for 22% of the variation in the intention to save for retirement, the extended model accounted for 40% of the variation. In addition to attitude, number of assets, having a dependent child between the ages of 5 ard 13, number of years expected to live after retirement, and age made significant contributions to the variation in the intention. It was concluded that the extended model is a better theoretical framework for explaining the intention to save for retirement. There were statistically and practically significant differences in the indirect measures of attitude and subjective norm for those who intended to save and those who did not. However it was apparent that neither group believed that saving now will assure than of financial security in retirement. Additional research is needed to further explore the variables which influence individual's intentions to save for retirement.