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MERRILL LYNCH STUDY SHOWS MORE THAN HALF OF EMPLOYED HOUSEHOLDS ARE SAVING NOTHING FOR RETIREMENT AND A GAP BETWEEN WOMEN AND MEN

 NEW YORK, July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- More than half of all employed American households are not saving anything for retirement, according to information released today in the Fifth Annual Merrill Lynch Retirement Planning Survey.
 This year's study yielded three key findings:
 -- Only 46 percent of pre-retirees (aged 45-64) and only 35 percent of baby boomers (aged 25-44) are saving for retirement.
 -- There is a distinct gap between women and men in their opportunity to prepare for retirement.
 -- And access to education and professional advisers may make a difference in retirement planning.
 "Every year, it becomes clearer that the failure of working Americans to save will make it increasingly difficult for them to retire," said John L. Steffens, executive vice president, Merrill Lynch Private Client Group.
 "Combine this problem with the fact that we're living longer, that the number of retirees is growing and that health care costs are rising, what you have is a demographic time bomb that could have severe financial consequences not only for each individual but for our nation," said Mr. Steffens.
 This is the fifth year Merrill Lynch has conducted its retirement planning survey, which is designed to track attitudes and behaviors of pre-retirees and baby boomers. Extensive telephone interviews were conducted in January and February of this year with 400 pre-retirees, 400 baby boomers and 300 employee benefits managers.
 This year's survey also identified some alarming trends:
 -- Pre-retirees are saving less now than they were four years ago. In 1989, they saved 14 percent of their income, while in 1992, they saved only 8 percent.
 -- Over the last five years, the number of pre-retirees who say they are prepared for retirement has dropped.
 -- Despite concerns and smaller retirement benefits, women start planning for retirement at a later age than men and overall, fewer women are saving for retirement.
 This gender gap between men and women can be attributed to a number of factors. Women tend to live longer than men. On average, women still earn 70 cents for every dollar a man earns. Many women spend fewer years in the work force and as a result receive smaller pension benefits and less Social Security. Added to that, women over 65 face a better than even chance of spending time in a nursing home, yet many never planned for long-term care.
 According to the survey, fewer women than men said they felt knowledgeable enough to make financial decisions about retirement.
 "There is an urgent need for women to act on behalf of their own financial security and retirement," said Linda Marcelli, senior resident vice president, Merrill Lynch Private Client, "but it must be informed action."
 Speaking today at the press luncheon announcing results of the retirement survey, Mrs. Marcelli said, "Women must be more assertive in learning about the issues that determine their financial security and in requesting information about their retirement benefits.
 "Women should become more familiar with and use investment strategies such as diversification, dollar cost averaging, risk evaluation and ensuring tax-free growth in managing their retirement assets," she added.
 One positive conclusion found in the survey was that access to education and professional advisers may make a difference in planning for retirement.
 Nearly 85 percent of pre-retirees and baby boomers who sought professional financial advice said they felt prepared for retirement, compared to only 57 percent of pre-retirees and 46 percent of baby boomers who did not seek such advice.
 About 85 percent said that if their company offered comprehensive financial planning it would be effective in helping them plan for retirement.
 In fact, 77 percent of pre-retirees and 80 percent of baby boomers said the best way for them to save is to have money automatically deducted from their paycheck.
 "In this regard, we believe employers could do a better job by providing 401(k) retirement plans along with better education about the investment possibilities that accompany these plans," said Mr. Steffens.
 "The government could also help by revitalizing the IRA and change the tax laws to encourage savings," he added. "But we feel the key ingredient to a successful retirement plan is the individual seeking out a professional financial adviser who can help them develop a plan and prepare for their eventual retirement."
 -0- 7/14/93 R
 /CONTACT: Fred Yager, 212-449-7355, or Sabrina Y. White, 609-282-3121, both of Merrill Lynch/
 (MER)


CO: Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. ST: New York IN: FIN SU: ECO

GK-SH -- NY067 -- 1513 07/14/93 14:47 EDT
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Date:Jul 14, 1993
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