The view of spending down retirement money runs into conflicting information.
A new study has found that two decades after retiring, 80% of retired Americans retained all of their pre-retirement assets and in some cases had more assets than when they retired, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "Today's Retirees, The Lucky Few, Are Riding High -- Why?"
One theory put forth for this phenomenon, is that Americans are increasingly afraid of running out of assets, so they are being frugal with them in retirement. That is possible in some cases, but there are other possible explanations for this data.
On average wealthier people live much longer than those who are not wealthy. This study only surveys people who have been retired for two decades. Because that is a long time to live after retiring, the study could be skewed. It may have sampled primarily wealthy people. The financial markets in which wealthy people have their savings have been on a 10-year-long rise. Wealthy retirees who still have money in stock markets, are doing quite well in those markets overall.
It would be great, if all retirees were able to grow their retirement savings. However, it is probably not a good idea to count on it.