In my capacity as the Director of The New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), I have been working with a research team to document the need for reform measures to prevent a crisis of downward mobility in retirement resulting from inadequate savings, eroding pension institutions, and decreasing access to and participation in effective retirement savings vehicles at work.
As part of this project, we are investigating how the environment in the years before retirement affects people's health and wealth when they finally get to an age to retire - similar to the long-term benefits of prenatal nutrition for a newborn baby and beyond.
Our new research paper, "The Crisis of Jobs and Healthcare for Unemployed Americans Aged 55-64", documents older individuals' experiences of unemployment, intermittent health care coverage, and increasingly harsh work conditions. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we investigate the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reform on this population and whether the unemployment faced by older Americans is cyclical or structural in nature.
Exploring solutions to this crisis, including job retraining programs and tax incentive plans, we find that workforce development and unemployment insurance policies must take into account the new reality that the unemployed are increasingly older, extremely low income, less likely to be able to retire on pensions, have little access to spousal income or health care and are often displaced from their career industries.
These results illustrate the increasing vulnerability of those approaching retirement age and suggest potentially dire results of raising the Social Security retirement age.