Family Finances

Rainy Days Don’t Retire: Older Adults, Financial Shocks, and the Promise of Emergency Savings Tools

March 22, 2024  • Shehryar Nabi & Karen Biddle Andres

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As life expectancy in the U.S. increases, older adults will comprise a larger share of the population than ever before. At the same time, older adults will play an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy. Their contributions through consumption, labor, and unpaid activities—such as providing care to others and volunteering—is expected to grow to over $27 trillion by 2050, more than triple their contribution in 2018.

For older adults—and America—to thrive amid this transition, it will be vital to ensure their financial stability. Yet our analysis finds that nearly half (47 percent) of older adults lack the liquid savings they need to be protected from financial shocks.

Fortunately, to fulfill their unmet need for savings, there is a significant opportunity—both at and outside the workplace—for a new generation of emergency savings tools to support older adults’ financial stability. This brief examines the unique policy and market innovation opportunities tailored to older adults, drawing on both original data analysis and existing research and solutions to explore the following questions:

  • What do we know about the unmet need for liquid savings and older adults, their employment, and the income streams they could draw from to build and replenish savings?
  • How do older adults seek to build emergency savings today with available financial tools?
  • Given many older adults’ dynamic and unique mix of income streams, where are there unexplored opportunities to build next-generation emergency savings tools to meet their needs?

Learn more about how we can tailor emergency savings tools to older adults by reading the brief.


The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program would like to thank the SCAN Foundation for their partnership and financial support of this brief.