Americans don’t seem to agree on much, but the sorry state of the nation’s retirement system is a rare object of consensus. In a 2017 survey by the National Institute on Retirement Security, 88% of respondents agreed that the nation is facing a retirement crisis.
Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School for Social Research, has long advocated for a new national retirement plan to replace the 401(k), the employer savings plan that has been plagued by high fees, inadequate contributions, and costly withdrawals. Her idea: guaranteed retirement accounts. Under this plan, workers and employers would be required to contribute, the government would provide a tax credit to help, funds would be pooled for higher returns, and retirees would collect a guaranteed monthly check.
Ghilarducci has teamed up with Tony James, president and chief operating officer at investment firm the Blackstone Group, to push for this idea in the forthcoming Rescuing Retirement (Columbia Univ., Jan. 2018). The authors hope to get their policy argument in front of a wider audience. “For 30 years, I’ve been writing for an academic audience, then technical panels, which can lead to policy makers—and that hasn’t been enough,” Ghilarducci says. “We feel we have to go straight to the voters because they’re the ones that get the policy makers’ attention.”
When it comes to recognizing the need for change, citizens are ahead of the politicians, she says. “People are frantic and worried about their retirement future.”
Other retirement titles slated for 2018 offer advice for savers coping with the system we have. As many Americans say they expect to work past the traditional retirement age—and experts caution that many will have to—career counselor Robin Ryan lays out a strategy for doing so in Retirement Reinvention (Penguin Books, Mar. 2018). Ryan, the author of seven previous career books and a frequent TV commentator, gives practical advice for creating a second act that strikes a balance between work and leisure, including starting a business or exploring nonprofit work.
In Retirement Fail (Wiley, Apr. 2018), financial advisor Greg Sullivan approaches retirement planning advice from the perspective of what can go wrong. Arguing that emotional decisions can damage even well-laid retirement plans, Sullivan offers solutions to combat potential pitfalls and ensure financial independence.