The young and the RRSP-less – Fewer young Canadians saving for retirement: RBC Poll

 TORONTO, January 19, 2011 — The number of Canadians aged 18 to 34 who have RRSPs has dropped to 39 per cent – the lowest level in almost a decade – and fully 45 per cent have not started saving for retirement yet, according to the 21st Annual RBC RRSP Poll.

Overall, retirement savings ranked seventh as a financial priority among younger Canadians (26 per cent). The RBC poll found that this age group is more focused on other financial goals such as regular payments to reduce or eliminate debt (56 per cent), saving for a rainy day (45 per cent) and homeownership (44 per cent).

The declining number of younger Canadians with RRSPs confirms a downward trend identified in last year’s RBC RRSP Poll and discussed in an RBC Economics report issued in January 2010.

“We’re seeing other financial priorities become increasingly top of mind for younger Canadians who may not realize they are missing out on one of Canada’s best income tax savings vehicles, as well as the potential to grow their investments more quickly,” said Lee Anne Davies, head, Retirement Strategy, RBC. “Retirement may seem far off in the future and we understand that paying off debt, purchasing your first home or raising young families presents competing financial needs, but building a secure future can and should be part of any plan to meet those needs.”

The RBC poll also found that, despite ranking homeownership as third on their financial priorities list, younger Canadians may be under-utilizing the RRSP benefits available to first-time homebuyers. A federal government program allows for tax-free RRSP withdrawals to help finance the first purchase of a new home; yet only six per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds withdrew money from their RRSP to purchase a home in the past year.

“Younger Canadians’ relatively low participation in the government’s first-time homebuyer’s program may in part reflect a lack of understanding about what an RRSP can do for you well ahead of your retirement years,” added Davies. “The start of the year is a very good time to sit down with your financial planner or visit your bank branch and find out what your retirement and investment options are and to make sure you are making the most of the resources available to you.”

2010 RRSP Fast Facts – Canadians aged 18 to 34

  • The number of Canadians aged 18-34 who have RRSPs dropped to 39 per cent, which is the lowest number in almost a decade and a five percentage point drop from 2009.
  • The overall number of Canadian adults who have RRSPs jumped to 61 per cent, up from 54 per cent in 2009.
  • Canadian RRSP holders in the 18-34 age group are most likely to maximize their RRSP contribution (33 per cent) for the 2010 tax year.
  • A quarter of Canadians with RRSPs (24 per cent) plan to maximize their contribution for 2010.
  • Thirty-five per cent of all Canadians make regular weekly or bi-weekly contributions to their RRSPs with Canadians aged 18-34 making up almost half (47 per cent) of this group.
  • One-in-three RRSP investors (34 per cent) make regular contributions through a plan, 45 per cent of whom are Canadians aged 18-34.

Charts related to the 2010 RBC RRSP Poll are available online at

Whether Canadians want RRSP and retirement savings advice or to borrow with confidence, the RBC Advice Centre ( is updated regularly to reflect current trends and answer the questions that are top of mind. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance.

Poll background
These are some of the findings from the RBC 21st Annual RRSP Poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between October 29 and November 4, 2010. For this survey, a national sample of 1,457 adults from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel were interviewed, of which 184 were 18 to 34-year-olds. The results are based on samples where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. A weighted probability sample of 1,457 Canadian respondents, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. A weighted probability sample of 184 18 to 34-year-old respondents, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±7.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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