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August 08 , 2010

Working Longer

The Solution to the Retirement Income Challenge


Daily headlines warn American workers that their retirement years may be far from golden. The main components of the retirement income system-Social Security and employer-provided pensions and health insurance-are in decline while the amount of income needed for a comfortable retirement continues to rise.

In Working Longer, Alicia Munnell and Steven Sass suggest a simple solution to this problem: postponing retirement by two to four years. By following their advice, the average worker retiring in 2030 can be as well off as today's retirees. Implementing this solution on a national scale, however, may not be simple.

Working Longer investigates the prospects for moving the average retirement age from 63, the current figure, to 66. Munnell and Sass ask whether future generations will be healthy enough to work beyond the current retirement age and whether older men and women want to work. They examine companies' incentives to employ older works and ask what government can do to promote continued participation in the workforce. Finally, they consider the challenge of ensuring a secure retirement for low-wage workers and those who are unable to continue to work.

The retirement system faces very real challenges. But together, workers, employers, and the government can keep this vital piece of the American dream alive.

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