My first recollection of the words “retirement” and “pension” was sometime in the mid-1970s. My grandfather, John Battaglia, an Italian immigrant who was born in 1912 and moved to New York City in 1928, was about to retire from the American Can Co. after more than 40 years of service. John retired in 1977, began to collect his monthly pension and then, sadly, passed away in 1978 at 66. Although he was able to collect his coveted pension benefit for a short period, he essentially worked his entire life.
The average life expectancy for a white male born in 1912 was 51.9 years, so I suppose John Battaglia was fortunate to live 14.1 years longer than the actuaries had forecasted. The fact is, on average, most people retiring in the 1970s who collected a pension didn't live well into their 70s, 80s or 90s. That has changed. A 66-year-old male living in the U.S. who retires this year can expect to live another 19 years.
We are not only getting older, but also there are more of us getting older. The number of people 65 and older in the U.S. in 1970 — 20 million — was about half of what it is today. You can transfer those numbers across most of the developed world with small differences from country to country, Japan, of course, being the exception as a country that has more centenarians than any other place on the planet.
The future of retirement is certainly more complicated today than it was when Pensions & Investments was conceived by its founders at our parent company, Crain Communications Inc. Today, longevity risk management and retirement income are becoming part of the holistic solutions considered by retirement plan executives, consultants and investment managers, as we seek to provide a more secure retirement for plan participants. Investment innovations such as custom target-date funds and liquid alternatives, as well as innovation in plan design that provides auto enrollment and auto escalation, all are working toward improving outcomes for participants.
The first biweekly issue of the newspaper was published on Oct. 29, 1973, just about a year before the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was signed into law by then-President Gerald Ford. Our mission was very straightforward: We were to report the news on a growing pool of assets dedicated to the funding of corporate and public pension plans. That pool of assets was $283 billion in 1973. Today, total U.S. retirement market assets exceed $12 trillion.
During the past several decades, P&I widened its editorial lens to include the growth of defined contribution assets, endowments and foundations, and sovereign wealth funds. The business of money management also became an important area of coverage for our readers. As business expanded globally, P&I adjusted its coverage to sync with the global growth of asset managers. Last October, we opened an editorial bureau in Singapore so we could be more useful to our readers by providing news and information on the fast-growing pools of professionally managed assets in Asia, along with the Asian asset management community.
As we reported the news and challenges of global retirement assets, we also expanded our delivery methods for reaching new audiences. Digital intraday news alerts, more than a dozen topic-specific e-mail newsletters and a mobile content delivery strategy that includes a data-driven app, P&IQ, help our readers do their jobs better than ever before.
I believe our high-tech approach to content delivery also has driven a heightened awareness and growing need for high-touch ways to learn about what other investors are doing to better manage their funds. P&I's conferences allow thousands of plan sponsors, endowment and foundation executives, consultants and money managers to share ideas and work on problem-solving together. Wherever there is a large pool of professionally managed assets, P&I is there doing our best to provide information, news, data, research and community. All with the intent of staying true to our original guiding mission in 1973, which is to look after the best interests of asset owners first, because what's best for them is also what's best for the participants of global retirement plans, and that's also what's best for the global business of managing retirement assets.
The retirement industry and money management businesses have come a long way since the days of the American Can Co.'s pension fund. Whatever the next 40 years bring, you can count on P&I to stay true to our core mission: doing our best to help you do your job better.