Jobs and wages have become less secure over the past thirty years, while stock and housing markets have gone through greater booms and busts at the same time. These factors alone make saving for retirement difficult, but a number of policy changes have also increasingly exposed household to these risks, making saving more difficult and more uncertain.
Social Security offers fewer protections, for instance, because of an increasing retirement age; people increasingly have to figure out complex “do-it-yourself” savings options; employees receive less help from their employers than in the past and those who need to save the least, because they have little risk exposure, tend to receive the greatest tax breaks for saving.
The results have been fewer retirement savings, more uncertainty and a direr outlook for a secure retirement for most Americans. Since savings are low and risk exposure is high because of past policy shortcomings, this book offers straightforward solutions to build real retirement security for American families.
Video of book launch event
This event was held January 21, 2016, at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.
Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress
Christian E. Weller, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress;
Professor of Public Policy, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston
Elizabeth Olson, Contributing Writer, The New York Times
Expert opinions about the book
“Weller provides a fresh, new perspective on the challenges that Americans face when saving for retirement. His account helps us all to think more clearly about the types of labor market and financial risks that families face, how they are changing, and their impact on Americans’ retirement security. Weller argues that exposure to these risks has risen just as these risks have become greater, leaving people’s retirement prospects diminished. Further, the account flows nicely into a discussion of his innovative policy ideas, which deserve serious consideration and debate. This book has much to offer to retirement scholars, policymakers, and the interested public worried about their economic security in retirement.”
Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute, USA
“The vast majority of working Americans – including more than 40 percent of workers over age 50 – feel unprepared for their own retirement. Weller effectively describes how our current system undermines the goal of retirement security. But more importantly, he offers a broad set of solutions to improve retirement savings, investing and withdrawals and even update Social Security to help low income families. Too often people only look at a single quick fix that misses the complexity of all that is broken.”
Debra Bailey Whitman, Executive Vice President, AARP – Policy, Strategy and International Affairs
“Few issues vex Americans more than inadequate retirement preparation. And few books provide a clearer picture of the problem – and what can be done to fix it – than Weller’s deeply researched analysis. Weller covers all the bases: the gaps in Social Security, the perils of employment-based accounts, the upside-down structure of tax breaks, and the huge financial barriers that stand between a risk-inundated middle class and sufficient retirement wealth. Perhaps most important, he lays out an ambitious but realistic path toward a stronger and fairer system that can provide the retirement security that so many Americans feel they have lost.”
Jacob S. Hacker, Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science, Yale University, USA; author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream