Is There Really a Retirement-Savings Crisis?

Read the WSJ Article “Is There Really a Retirement-Savings Crisis?”. Let’s start here. It’s conversations like these that open the door to thinking about the relationship between overall statistics and the heterogeneity in the population that is being discussed. As soon as you spot an argument like this, then you have to be concerned that one policy solution may not fit all. And as soon as you realize that, then you know you probably will end up thinking about winners and losers, and people may have very strong opinions depending on which category they perceive themselves to be in. But, that shouldn’t stop you from thinking carefully about policy options (and then thinking about whether the policy will have outcomes (on net) that are better than the status quo. Your homework assignment is to start down this path of a) explicitly stating a question about retirement income that you would like to learn about (including stating who your population of interest is: all elderly and why, or some subset, defined by some criteria and why), b) summarize a piece of research from the academic economic literature* that has been done about their current status, including how they seem to be making private decisions or how they seem to be using (or will use) government services if the social security system remains at the status quo. Based on what you read, describe a measure or outcome that you would be willing to use as a proxy to measure their well-being (and why you chose it) and conclude with a brief few sentences about the next three questions you would ask if you were to do further research. Therein ends the light homework assignment (max 15 points – about 1.5-2 pages). If you do the heavier assignment, do all of the above. In addition, read another reference from the academic economic literature that proposes or evaluates a potential change in policy, summarize this article as well, and explicitly analyze the expected incentives (both desirable and perverse) and who is most likely to benefit and who is most likely not. (max 35 points – about 2-3 pages). *Academic economic literature may include any working paper or published piece of economic research that you find in the EconLit database, on the website, or of similar quality from a government research division or reputable think tank. Please provide your source(s) in a bibliography at the end of the paper. The writing in this paper should be in your own words throughout.… – link for WSJ article.

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