Regardless of when they served time, Americans who have at some point been incarcerated suffer long-term effects on both work and retirement savings.
That’s according to a study from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which finds that Americans age 50 and older who have been behind bars at some point in their lives are more likely to have been unemployed in the recent past, to express anxiety about several aspects of retirement, and to have fewer sources of income for retirement than those who have not.
And when it comes to retirement savings, formerly incarcerated older Americans are four times as likely to say they have no sources of retirement savings at all.
Incarceration in the U.S., the study says, is highly correlated with socioeconomic status; less-educated Americans and racial minorities are far more likely to be imprisoned. Bureau of Justice Statistics data indicate that in 2015, 2.1 million people were incarcerated in the U.S.
Not only are those who actually served time in prison affected, but the study also finds that incarceration affects the retirement outlook of older Americans who haven’t actually been in prison personally, but who have immediate family members who have served time in prison or jail.
Indirect as their experience with the penal system may be, these older Americans also express more anxiety about retirement.
Adults 50 and older who have previously served time in prison or jail are more than twice as likely as those who have not served time to have been unemployed in the last five years, at 43 percent compared with 16 percent.
In addition, more of them are likely to be more anxious about retirement, at 57 percent compared with 42 percent.
They’re also less likely to be able to rely on Social Security income during retirement—62 percent, compared with 79 percent—but be more likely to have disability payments, at 31 percent compared with 14 percent.