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Trends in the Retirement System of the United States


  • Lucy apRoberts

    () (Institutions and Historical Dynamics of Economics (IDHE), Université de Paris X, Maison Max Weber, Bâtiment K, 200 avenue de la République, 92001 Nanterre Cedex 01, France.)


Since the 1950s, poverty among older Americans has become quite rare compared to the rest of the population. The retirement system has two main components: the social insurance system called Social Security provides the population age 65 or over with 39 per cent of their total income; occupational pension plans provide another 19 per cent of the older population's total income. Since 2000, Social Security pension levels have dropped for new retirees if they begin to get a pension before age 66. Coverage by occupational pension plans is on the wane. In future, these developments could lead to an income shortfall for those older Americans who do not save more or postpone retirement. The financial crisis has undermined confidence in savings as a reliable source of income. In recent years, there has been a slight increase in the labour force participation of the older population, including those over 65. Nonetheless, many Americans retire at 62, as soon as they can begin to draw a Social Security pension. If current policy concerning Social Security does not change, poverty could become more common than it is today among older Americans.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucy apRoberts, 2009. "Trends in the Retirement System of the United States," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 34(4), pages 618-630, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:gpprii:v:34:y:2009:i:4:p:618-630

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