I will be speaking on a retirement security panel at a conference sponsored by Demos, EPI, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and The Century Foundation. The conference, "Strengthening Our Fiscal Future: Meeting National Priorities and Achieving Prosperity," will be held on October 5, from 8:30am-4:30pm at the Newseum in Washington, DC.
In July, Bloomberg’s Businessweek issued a special report focused on financing retirement. They invited me to include a description of my proposal for Guaranteed Retirement Accounts.
Here’s an excerpt of the problem:
Over the past 30 years, workplace pensions have morphed from defined-benefit plans (in which the company pays retirees a set amount every month from retirement to death) into defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s, which are primarily funded by deductions from salaries. In a perfect world, an average worker could amass something like $400,000 in a 401(k) by retirement. After nearly three decades of 401(k) contributions, though, the average account balance for people nearing retirement age is about $60,000, far less than what's needed. So it's no surprise that when a recent Gallup poll asked what Americans want most from government, more chose guaranteed pensions than guaranteed jobs or health care.
I just got back from Ireland, discussing my book “When I’m Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them”. In Ireland, pension security and the financial crisis is on everyone’s mind.
I spoke twice—first at the business school at Trinity College, at an event sponsored by their superb Pension Policy Research Group Trinity College Business School and Trinity College Pension Policy Research Group funded by the American based Atlantic Philanthropies. The second venue was the Kilkenny Arts Festival (fellow economists, eat your heart out – my badge said “Kilkenny Artist!). Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times, whose latest book is Ship Of Fools, How Stupidity And Corruption Sank The Celtic Tiger, 2009, moderated the panel. The audience included union officials, artists, and advocates, including a representative of the wonderfully named group “Older and Bolder.”