The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System

The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System

by Sylvester J. Schieber


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Social Security is in jeopardy, private pension systems have fallen apart, and workers are trying to save on their own for retirement with the stock market in the worst shape since the Great Depression. In The Predictable Surprise, Sylvester J. Schieber shows that forewarnings of the coming retirement crisis have been apparent for decades, but we have never mustered the political will to address the problem. This book explains how we have gotten into the retirement predicament and where we can go from here. Schieber, a renowned authority on this topic, provides a compact, insightful history of Social Security, pension plans, and other retirement options, highlighting both their original justifications and the point when things began to go wrong. He brings his discussion right up to the present morass and concludes with suggestions as to how we can reform our retirement system. Our situation is not hopeless, Schieber concludes, if we take on some of these issues and resolve them. If we do not, we will severely jeopardize the prosperity of younger generations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190240394
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Sylvester J. Schieber is Former Chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board, and the author or editor of numerous books on various aspects of population aging and retirement.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
Preface and acknowledgments

Part 1: Foundations and Fault Lines
1. Retirement USA
2. Early Motivations behind the Pension Movement

Part II: Social Security, the dream and reality
3. Development and Passage of the Social Security Act
4. Early Concerns Prove Nagging and Persistent
5. Moving to Pay-as-You-Go Financing
6. A Deal too Good to Last
7. Operations under Pay-as-You-Go Financing
8. Crisis Reactions: Conflict, Consensus and Surprise
9. Sorting out the Trust Fund Semantics and Realities
10. Policy Stalemate at the Demographic Divide
11. Understanding Social Security in Modern Times

Part III: Employer-based pension provision
12. Employer Pensions Taking Root
13. Growing pains for Private Retirement Plans
14. ERISA: the Transition to a New Regulatory Regime
15. The 1980s, a Decade of Regulatory Schizophrenia
16. Good Intentions Gone Awry
17. Some Good News—or Not
18. The Unfolding of a Predictable Defined Benefit Surprise
19. And Then, a Predictable Defined Contribution Surprise
20. Public pensions: the good, the bad and the ugly

Part IV: Delivering benefits and providing retirement security
21. Retirement Income Security and Workers' Residuals
22. End Game: A Gold Watch, Pat on the Back and More
23. We've Killed the Goose, Let's Gild the Eggs
24. Tax Benefits and Benefit Taxes
25. Retiree Health Benefits: Misfortune or Malpractice

Part V: Truth and consequences
26. The Fellow Behind the Tree
27. Securing the Social Security Foundation
28. Securing Tax-Favored Benefits and Living Standards
29. Remembering the Future

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