The fact that the U.S. retirement is in crisis is no secret here or abroad. On May 14, 2013, The New York Times article How They Do It Elsewhere highlighted a recent Mercer study that graded the retirement systems in the advanced industrialized countries. Not surprisingly, the U.S. received a mediocre C. Considering that the retirement system is failing millions of Americans each year, one might wonder if they graded on a curve.
Every country is worried about investing retirement funds correctly, and every country wants to minimize risks to the taxpayer so there aren’t large, unknown bills in the future. In the United States, we use our tax code far more than other countries to try to encourage savings and other socially beneficial behavior. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars to try to incentive saving for retirement through 401(k)’s and I.R.A.’s. That costs us a huge amount of money without much effect creating a secure retirement system. In fact, America’s voluntary system means that nearly six out of 10 workers are not in pension or 401(k) plans.