“Young retiree” households, defined as those in the age 65-69 range, tend to spend about a fifth less than do “mid-career” households, those in the 45-49 range, GAO has found in a report that supports the common target that retirees should be assured of having 80 percent of their pre-retirement income to live on.

The pattern was about the same when all pre-retirement households (age 50-64) were compared with post-retirement households aged 65-79, with the latter spending about 77 percent as much as the former.

GAO found decreases after retirement in every category examined except health, where average annual spending was $5,000 for the retired group versus $3,900 for pre-retirees. For retirees, health costs accounted for 12 percent of their total average spending of $41,900 versus only 7 percent of the average pre-retiree household spending of $54,400.

The data also showed that spending rates drop as a retiree ages, with the average for those 65-69 of $46,800 annually per household, $34,700 for those 75-79 and $31,400 for those 80 and up. Among expenses dropping the most over that period are transportation, personal insurance and entertainment.

One factor in that decline, it added, is that as retiree households age, there is a greater chance that one of a couple will have died.