Various studies have reached differing results regarding whether individuals have saved enough for retirement, a study has said, although care must be taken to examine the underlying assumptions of those studies.

A report by the Center for Retirement Research said that about half of households will be unable to maintain their standards of living in retirement, a more pessimistic view than that of many others.

Said the authors: “In our view, studies showing that people are saving optimally hinge crucially on assumptions that imply people are willing to accept declining consumption as they age and sharply reduce their consumption when the children leave home. Yet the key question is whether these assumptions seem plausible. While bits and pieces of evidence exist on both sides of these assumptions, the central questions remain unsettled.

“Moreover, the fact that consumption does not decline early in retirement ignores the fact that many people do not have the resources to consume at that pace over their entire retirement. In summary, given the clearly documented decline in assets to income over time, our best assessment is that U.S. households are more likely than not to be falling short when it comes to saving for retirement.”

It said the main reason for that conclusion is that while savings ratios by ae and income level have remained relatively unchanged, life expectancies are longer, health care costs are increasing, defined benefit retirement plans are eroding, and interest rates in the types of investments favored by retirees are lower. “The result is a clear indication that people retiring in the future will be less prepared than those in the past,” it said.