Aging California's Retirement Crisis

State and Local Indicators

Report Summary

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With the senior population expected to grow by nearly two-thirds in the next two decades, and most workers unprepared for retirement, California faces a mounting retirement crisis. While the retirement crisis is national in scope, California seniors face high costs of living and the state ranks near the bottom in workplace access to a pension or 401(k). Absent policy action to improve old-age financial security for today’s workers and sustain quality of life for the aging population, the ranks of California’s impoverished elderly will swell rapidly over the next two decades and beyond.

This report outlines key retirement security indicators—focused on demographics, income and poverty, and housing and supportive services—for California as a whole, and at the regional level. For the purposes of this study, the state is divided into seven regions: (rural) Northern California, Central Valley, Sacramento, Bay Area, Central Coast, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Our analysis draws primarily on state demographic projections, Census data, and state administrative data.

The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, it is intended to outline important statewide and regional trends in aging, senior economic security, and selected public resources for the elderly. Second, these measures will serve as a benchmark against which to measure the results of policy interventions in the future.

Our findings indicate that California’s seniors are already struggling to meet basic needs, and a large majority of the elder population in 2035 will consist of groups that are already economically vulnerable: the oldest seniors, older women, and seniors of color. And while all regions in California will be affected, some will face greater challenges based on the magnitude and makeup of senior population growth.

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