Weller’s New Book Finds U.S. Retirement Crisis Rooted in Public Policy Failure

Kelly Kenneally and Barbara M. Graceffa | December 16, 2015
In his new book, Christian Weller proposes policy interventions to increase savings and lower wealth uncertainty.

In his new book, Christian Weller proposes policy interventions to increase savings and lower wealth uncertainty.



This book .. is a must read for economists, legislators, and those in the financial sector.



Christian Weller, a professor of public policy at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies and senior fellow with the Center for American Progress has published Retirement on the Rocks: Why Americans Can’t Get Ahead and How New Savings Policies Can Help.

The new book finds that the U.S. retirement crisis is the result of savings obstacles created by public policy, and it is not the result of unwise financial decisions by Americans. Decades of broken public policies have exposed individuals and families to increased economic risks just as simultaneously job uncertainty and volatility in the stock and housing markets have gone up. The book offers insight on the causes of the retirement savings shortfall, along with five straightforward policy solutions to turn the crisis around.

“Absent a serious rethinking of public policy to improve broad based savings, this lingering economic insecurity will rob millions of Americans of their retirement years, cause serious economic consequences, and postpone homeownership and entrepreneurship,” Weller says.  “We have to find a way out of the tough reality that most Americans are treading water and will not be able to get ahead when it comes to reaching a secure and meaningful retirement.”

The majority of all working-age households are expected to fall short of maintaining their standard of living in retirement, up from less than one-third just three decades ago. The book indicates that rising wealth inequality and increasing wealth volatility means more widespread economic hardship for households, greater demand on government programs, and slower economic growth.  

“If we want to solve this financial crisis, the first step is to understand the mechanisms by which household risk exposure has increased amid rising labor and financial market risks. Policy interventions then can address each of these mechanisms and help households gain more risk protections. The end goal is to increase savings and lower wealth uncertainty, so American families can re-gain retirement income security,” Weller explained.

Weller recommends policy changes that will help restore financial security and enable Americans to be self-sufficient in retirement: update Social Security to improve risk protections, create new and better savings opportunities outside of the employer-employee relationship, better target savings incentives to help lower-income people, simplify savings so that more people will save more money, and make financial risk protections an integral part of retirement savings policy.

McCormack's Dean David W. Cash comments, "Christian Weller is a respected academic with expertise in retirement income security. This book on the rising wealth inequality and economic volatility which have caused the retirement crisis and his straighforward solutions is a must read for economists, legislators, and those in the financial sector."

Tags: christian weller , economic volatility , gerontology , mccormack graduate school , public policy , retirement on the rocks , retirement policy , wealth inequality

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