Allianz, the life insurance and financial services company, has a new study out presented in chipper, celebratory PR language, but the message is pretty sobering. Here’s how the press release begins:
Despite a stronger economy, today’s American families, and in particular “modern” families with a nontraditional structure*, are struggling in ways never seen before. Even though 85% of the more than 4,500 Americans polled in LoveFamilyMoney,** a new Allianz study, identify themselves as “middle class,”—a status that has traditionally afforded a level of financial security— a staggering 57% of modern families say that they are either “making ends meet,” “struggling financially,” or “poor,” a full 10 percentage points higher than their traditional family counterparts. Moreover, 49% of modern families say that they currently live paycheck to paycheck, versus 41% of traditional families, and 25% are not saving any money at all.
The Allianz LoveFamilyMoney Study was designed to seek insights into the financial needs of today’s families, which have reached unprecedented diversity. Today, just 19.6% of U.S. households are married heterosexual couples with children, a big shift from the 40.3% of traditional families counted in 1970. The study revealed surprising differences in the financial security of traditional versus modern families, providing the financial services industry with compelling evidence of the need to tailor products to the needs of specific family structures.
Got that? Live in a “modern family” way, versus traditional, and you’re likely to be more financially at-risk, more vulnerable. More:
“New family structures have a direct impact on a family’s relationship with money and finances—and we found that, while modern families have similar strong emotional ties, they often feel financially less secure than their traditional counterparts,” said Katie Libbe, Allianz Life vice president of Consumer Insights. “While family structure plays a prominent role, our study of these different modern family cohorts uncovered a number of unique insights into each group’s attitudes, perceptions and beliefs around money and financial planning.”
Just 30% of modern families felt a high level of financial security, versus 41% of traditional families. The split becomes more pronounced when looking at financial hardships. Nearly 36% of modern families have collected unemployment, versus only 21% of traditional families. And 35% of modern families have unexpectedly lost a main source of income, compared with 23% in the traditional category. Moreover, twice as many modern families have declared bankruptcy versus traditional families (22% compared with 11% of traditional families).
Modern families also struggle with their financial futures. Only 34% of modern families believe that they have “excellent/above average” financial planning knowledge/expertise, compared with 44% of their traditional counterparts. And only 51% of modern families (versus 60% of traditional families) think that they are on track to achieve their financial goals. The reason? Fifty-eight percent of modern families say that covering current expenses takes priority over planning for the future.
So-called “modern” families are therefore more dependent on the state, and have less autonomy over their own futures.
This is assuredly not the message Allianz, a non-judgmental, diverse, and inclusive modern company wants to send, but reading through the PR fluffery, the bottom line is clear: Want greater financial security? Be traditional.
In the case of family forms, no matter what the propagandists say, diversity is not our strength.