Generations Apart Study

Six Years Later, Most Gen Xers and Boomers Still Reeling from 2008 Market Crash

 “Post-Crash Skeptics”? One in Five Experienced Significant Trauma, Remain Apprehensive

September 23, 2015 — MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than six years have passed since the market crash of 2008, and a significant number of both Gen Xers and baby boomers say that they’re still reeling from the effects today, according to Generations ApartSM* – a new study from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) on how baby boomers and Generation X are facing their financial future. When asked about the crash, more than two-thirds (67%) of Gen X and boomer respondents said they still feel the impact in how they live, work, save, and spend.

Yet, the effects of the crash have been even more profound for a distinct segment of respondents identified as “post-crash skeptics.” This group appears to suffer from a significant psychological impact on their financial attitudes and behaviors, including lost confidence in financial institutions and a switch to more conservative investments. An overwhelming 93% of post-crash skeptics – which includes a cross-section of Gen Xers and boomers who experienced six or more major effects of the crash – said the 2008 crash still haunts them today. Accordingly, more than nine in 10 (93%) believe that the traditional definition of retirement is now a “romantic fantasy of the past” (versus 84% of the total respondents).

20% experienced significant impact

Allianz Life’s study of 2,000 Americans – including 1,000 baby boomers (ages 49-67) and 1,000 Gen Xers (ages 35-48) – asked a series of 13 questions about possible experiences from the 2008 market crash, including whether their home or 401(k) went down in value, whether they or a family member lost a job, and whether their savings and/or retirement planning were affected. One in five (20%) of all respondents indicated they experienced six or more of these events, identifying them as post-crash skeptics.

Although a majority of both Gen Xers and boomers (58%) said the crash had fundamentally made them more cautious and altered their thinking about risk and investments, the impact on post-crash skeptics was even greater. A full 83% of post-crash skeptics said the crash made them more cautious in their financial strategy – a fact that may adversely impact their ability to effectively save for retirement.

“Generations Apart has yielded some compelling differences between the way Gen Xers and baby boomers view their finances, but the emergence of post-crash skeptics from both generations experiencing the same sense of skepticism and lower confidence about their financial future was eye-opening,” said Katie Libbe, Allianz Life vice president of Consumer Insights. “It’s important for the financial services industry to recognize this group and consider strategies for helping them move past the barriers and biases resulting from 2008, prompting them to take a more active role in financial planning.”

Significant Loss of Confidence

It’s important for the financial services industry to recognize this group and consider strategies for helping them move past the barriers and biases resulting from 2008, prompting them to take a more active role in financial planning

One of the most poignant effects reported by the post-crash skeptics was a loss of confidence in financial institutions, with more than three-quarters (77%) of this group expressing this opinion versus only 38% of the total respondents. In addition, the crash altered the way post-crash skeptics view the market and their investment strategy. More than two-thirds of post-crash skeptics (67%) said they changed their view of the market to risky (versus 32% of the total respondents) and 43% said they switched to more conservative investing or financial products (versus 22% of the total respondents).

Perhaps more significant was the reported behavioral differences in post-crash skeptics compared to the total group of Gen X and boomer respondents. Half of the post-crash skeptics reported taking on more debt after the crash (compared to 23% of the total respondents) and 41% reported that they or a partner had lost a job – almost three times as many as the total respondents (15%). Of even greater concern, 41% of post-crash skeptics said they’d stopped saving for retirement since the crash – more than three times that of Gen Xers and boomers as a group.

As a likely result of these actions, post-crash skeptics have a much more pessimistic view of their chances for a successful retirement with more than half (52%) saying they don’t believe they’ll have the lifestyle they want in retirement (versus only 39% of the total group).

“If these post-crash skeptics have been sitting on the sidelines since 2008, it may be time for them to get more engaged with their finances,” added Libbe. “Although investing in retirement can be daunting, the longer people refuse to address the challenges, the more difficult it will become to ensure they have adequate income for retirement – and their lifestyle will ultimately suffer.”

More from the Generations Apart Study

For more information about the Allianz Generations Apart Study, including how each generation feels about their prospects for a comfortable retirement, visit In the coming months, Allianz Life will release additional data from the Generations Apart Study. Topics will include, among others:

Dealing with the retirement crisis – examining attitudes and opinions about retirement income and the best ways to address the challenge.
New preferences for financial planning – exploring the different expectations boomers and Gen Xers have when it comes to getting help with financial planning.



About Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015, has been keeping its promises since 1896. Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry with 147,000 employees worldwide. More than 85 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most of financial opportunities.
*The Allianz Generations Apart Study was conducted by Larson Research + Strategy via online interviews in November 2014 with 2,000 U.S. adults ages 35-67 with a minimum household income of $30K+, and was commissioned by Allianz Life.