A new survey finds that Americans aged 50 and older who were incarcerated at some point in their lives are more likely to express anxiety about several aspects of retirement, to have experienced unemployment in the recent past, and to have fewer sources of income for retirement than those who have not been incarcerated.
The findings are based on a new national survey given by The Associated Press-NORC (National Opinion Research Center) Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey offers a rare look at the effects of incarceration on older Americans’ work life and retirement outlook.
“This new survey provides important data on the lasting impact incarceration has on older Americans long after they are released,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “We have seen difficulties for many Americans in planning for retirement, but those are magnified when someone spends time in jail or prison.”
Key findings from the survey include the following:
- about 25 percent of adults aged 50 and older who have been incarcerated say they have no retirement accounts at all, compared with five percent of older adults who have not been incarcerated;
- one in three adults who have been incarcerated lost a job as a result of being imprisoned;
- forty-four percent of those who have been incarcerated say that they have looked for a job in the past five years, compared with only 24 percent of those who say they have not been incarcerated;
- fifty-four percent of those who have served time in prison or jail say they are not confident their savings will last through the entirety of their retirement, compared with 37 percent of people who have not been incarcerated.
- about one in three Americans aged 50 and older with a family member who has served time have had to borrow or withdraw money from a retirement plan, compared with 24 percent of those who have not had a family member incarcerated.
- fifty-seven percent of those who have served time in prison or jail say they are more anxious than excited about retiring, while 53 percent of those who have not been incarcerated say they are more excited than anxious.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons and county jails in 2013. This equals about one in 110 adults in the U.S. resident population. In addition, about 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (one in 51) were on probation or on parole.