By Richard Thripp
Edited by Dr. Ismail Sahin, Dr. Wenxia Wu
New teachers are facing lower pay and less generous retirement benefits than the prior generation, yet their financial and retirement knowledge, concerns, and preferences have received little attention. To investigate these areas, the author developed a 39-item survey instrument and administered it to 314 preservice teachers in undergraduate teacher education courses at the University of Central Florida, who were primarily female elementary and early childhood education juniors and seniors ages 18–25. Florida public employees are offered an unusual choice between a traditional pension plan and a defined-contribution plan similar to a 401(k) in which they can select their own investments, and 54% of surveyed preservice teachers preferred the 401(k)-like plan structure. However, their preferences may be ill-advised, given that in a mock portfolio allocation exercise intended to assess retirement investing sophistication, preservice teachers directed more than half their retirement money to low-risk money market and bond funds, which will likely underperform stocks over several decades. Furthermore, they anticipated that low salaries will impede their ability to save for retirement. For comparison, the survey was also administered to 205 U.S. college students or graduates ages 18–25 on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform for $1.00 each. Worrisomely, preservice teachers had significantly lower financial knowledge and retirement investing sophistication. These findings suggest a need for financial education targeting Florida preservice teachers, particularly given that the Florida Retirement System substantially cut its benefits in 2011.
Thripp, R. (2019). A survey of investing and retirement knowledge and preferences of preservice teachers. I. Sahin & W. Wu (Eds.). Monument, CO: ISTES Organization.
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