Whatever Happened to Thrift: Why Americans Don’t Save and What to Do About It

Ronald T. Wilcox, Author
Ronald T. Wilcox, Author . Yale Univ. $30 (159p) ISBN 978-0-300-12451-4
Paperback - 159 pages - 978-0-300-15824-3
Open Ebook - 172 pages - 978-0-300-14532-8
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It’s a much bemoaned fact that Americans who fail to sock money away in savings accounts and investments risk severe hardship once they hit retirement age or fall on tough times. What’s far less obvious is how to turn these overspenders into savers. Wilcox draws insights from economics and psychology to tackle this challenge in his slim but sensible volume. His analysis of our prodigal ways is slight—a historian or cultural critic might have handled this question with more depth and aplomb—but his policy prescriptions are comprehensive, insightful and well argued. Wilcox explores radical measures, such as replacing the income tax with a consumption tax, as well as simple and easily implemented programs such as automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans and requiring more fee disclosure from investment firms. He observes that current incentives skew toward the wealthy and highlights ways to give lower-income Americans access to savings vehicles like mutual funds. As Wilcox wisely notes, there’s no magic bullet for America’s savings crisis, but a patchwork of practical solutions, small and large, could significantly increase workers’ long-term financial security. (June)

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