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Retirement Security in an Aging Society

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  • James M. Poterba

Abstract

The share of the U.S. population over the age of 65 was 8.1 percent in 1950, 12.4 percent in 2000, and is projected to reach 20.9 percent by 2050. The percent over 85 is projected to more than double from current levels, reaching 4.2 percent by mid-century. The aging of the U.S. population makes issues of retirement security increasingly important. Elderly individuals exhibit wide disparities in their sources of income. For those in the bottom half of the income distribution, Social Security is the most important source of support; program changes would directly affect their well-being. Income from private pensions, assets, and earnings are relatively more important for higher-income elderly individuals, who have more diverse income sources. The trend from private sector defined benefit to defined contribution pension plans has shifted a greater share of the responsibility for retirement security to individuals, and made that security more dependent on choices they make. A significant subset of the population is unlikely to be able to sustain their standard of living in retirement without higher pre-retirement saving.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Society," NBER Working Papers 19930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19930
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    3. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2019. "We Are All Behavioral, More or Less: Measuring and Using Consumer-Level Behavioral Sufficient Statistics," Working Papers 19-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    4. Raj Chetty, 2015. "Behavioral Economics and Public Policy: A Pragmatic Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 1-33, May.
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    6. Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell & Ralph Rogalla & Tatjana Schimetschek, 2021. "Optimal social security claiming behavior under lump sum incentives: Theory and evidence," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 88(1), pages 5-27, March.
    7. Chen, Guodong & Lee, Minjoon & Nam, Tong-yob, 2020. "Forced retirement risk and portfolio choice," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 293-315.
    8. William G. Gale & Hilary Gelfond & Jason J. Fichtner & Benjamin H. Harris, 2021. "The Wealth of Generations, With Special Attention to the Millennials," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Distribution and Mobility of Income and Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Victor Stango & Joanne Yoong & Jonathan Zinman, 2017. "The Quest for Parsimony in Behavioral Economics: New Methods and Evidence on Three Fronts," NBER Working Papers 23057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Alexandra Spicer & Olena Stavrunova & Susan Thorp, 2016. "How Portfolios Evolve after Retirement: Evidence from Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 92(297), pages 241-267, June.
    11. David N. Weil, 2015. "Capital and Wealth in the Twenty-First Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 34-37, May.
    12. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & Minjoon Lee & Matthew D. Shapiro & Christopher Tonetti, 2015. "The Wealth of Wealthholders," NBER Working Papers 20972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Gale, William & Gelfond, Hilary & Fichtner, Jason, 2018. "How Will Retirement Saving Change by 2050? Prospects for the Millennial Generation," MPRA Paper 99196, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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