A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement

A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement

by Anne L. Alstott
A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement

A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement

by Anne L. Alstott


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As America's haves and have-nots drift further apart, rising inequality has undermined one of the nation's proudest social achievements: the Social Security retirement system. Unprecedented changes in longevity, marriage, and the workplace have made the experience of old age increasingly unequal. For educated Americans, the traditional retirement age of 65 now represents late middle age. These lucky ones typically do not face serious impediments to employment or health until their mid-70s or even later. By contrast, many poorly educated earners confront obstacles of early disability, limited job opportunities, and unemployment before they reach age 65.

America's system for managing retirement is badly out of step with these realities. Enacted in the 1930s, Social Security reflects a time when most workers were men who held steady jobs until retirement at 65 and remained married for life. The program promised a dignified old age for rich and poor alike, but today that egalitarian promise is failing. Anne L. Alstott makes the case for a progressive program that would permit all Americans to retire between 62 and 76 but would provide more generous early retirement benefits for workers with low wages or physically demanding jobs. She also proposes a more equitable version of the outdated spousal benefit and a new phased retirement option to permit workers to transition out of the workforce gradually.

A New Deal for Old Age offers a pragmatic and principled agenda for renewing America's most successful and popular social welfare program.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674088757
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Anne L. Alstott is the Jacquin D. Bierman Professor at Yale Law School and author of A New Deal for Old Age, among other books. She has won her school’s top teaching award five times in her twenty-six-year career. She has written or cowritten pieces for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and Slate, and has appeared on the public radio programs Marketplace and On Point.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1

2 The New Inequality of Old Age 18

3 Static Law and Growing Inequality 28

4 Justice over the Life Cycle 43

5 Cumulative Disadvantage and Unequal Age 64

6 From Principles to Policies 75

7 Progressive Retirement Timing 92

8 Insuring a Longer Working Life 109

9 Families and Retirement 122

10 Reforming the Taxation of Retirement 134

11 Principles and Politics in Retirement Policy 141

Notes 149

References 169

Acknowledgments 191

Index 193

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