The perceived problem of Americans not saving enough may be solved as people age and need less money for their daily needs, a Federal Reserve Bank study concludes.
The report by analyst Michael Bryan and researcher Susan Byrne points out that younger wage earners typically borrow money in anticipation of making more money in the future but tend to save more as they become older and the prospect of increased earnings decreases."Because of these different patterns of incomes and spending over the course of a life cycle, younger workers tend to have high levels of spending and debt relative to their current income, while middle-aged workers are inclined toward relatively low levels of spending and indebtedness."
Personal savings as a percent of national income fell from 8 percent in 1975 to 3 percent in 1987, triggering many comments that Americans need to learn to save more. But during the same time, the age of the work force became younger.
Personal income typically levels off at about age 40, and by 1986 the oldest members of the baby-boom generation celebrated their 40th birthdays.
"Since then, the lifetime earnings potential of the labor force has fallen abruptly relative to current income," their report said. "This reflects a labor force near the peak of its age-earnings profile, with an average age that has been rising.
"Consistent with these trends, the rate of personal savings has escalated and we have begun to reduce our dependence on foreign capital."
The report points out that since 1987 the personal savings rate has increased from 3 percent to 5 percent of national income.
The Census Bureau is projecting the 20- to 34-year-old age group will fall from 43 percent of the working-age population to about 35 percent within 10 years.
"This trend will likely exert upward pressure on personal savings rates and downward pressure on real U.S. interest rates, discouraging foreign capital inflows in the process," the report said.