Twenty-somethings saving for retirement have just over half the amount in their pension pots that people in their thirties do.
To keep pace, experts say they must up their contributions from an average of eight per cent to 12.
It comes as predictions of long-term falls in stock markets mean pension funds are likely to deliver less in the future.
A typical worker who started saving eight per cent of their salary into a pension at the age of 22 would have a forecast pot of £85,000.
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But someone who started work a decade earlier could look forward to having £131,000 when they retire.
A report by pensions platform Interactive Investor and consultants LCP shows the shortfall also affects those in defined contribution schemes.
This includes the 10 million workers forced to save under the Government’s auto-enrolment scheme, introduced when growth forecasts were higher.
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Becky O’Connor co-authored the report, which is based on analysis of Financial Conduct Authority figures.
She said: “Lower investment growth could mean the difference between scraping by and being comfortable in retirement. This needs to be reflected by higher minimum pension contributions.”
University lecturer Marc Duffy, 30, only took pensions seriously when he heard an older colleague discussing his.
The former engineer, of Sheffield, now pays 18 per cent of his salary into a pension.
He added: “Thank God I started putting my money in early.”
But Steve Webb, of LCP, warned that some annual pension statements can be misleading.
He said: “Different forecasts are regulated by different bodies, use different rules and give different answers for the same pension pot.”