American Economic Review: Vol. 104 No. 5 (May 2014)


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Retirement Security in an Aging Population

Article Citation

Poterba, James M. 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Population." American Economic Review, 104(5): 1-30.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.5.1


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 responsibility for retirement security to individuals. A significant subset of the population is unlikely to be able to sustain their standard of living in retirement without higher pre-retirement saving.

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Poterba, James M. (MIT)

JEL Classifications

D14: Household Saving; Personal Finance
D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
H55: Social Security and Public Pensions
I31: General Welfare; Well-Being
J14: Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-labor Market Discrimination
J26: Retirement; Retirement Policies

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