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Publications by Barbara Butrica for Retirement Policy

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The Changing Causes and Consequences of Not Working before Age 62 (Series/The Retirement Project Discussion Papers)
Barbara Butrica, Nadia Karamcheva

This study considers nonworking older adults and their channels of support before qualifying for Social Security benefits. Results show that among adults ages 55 to 61, nonearners are more likely than earners to be poor, to be concerned about not having adequate resources for retirement, and to be dissatisfied with their retirement when they do retire. However, nonearners are a heterogeneous group. A large share is poor, with low incomes and limited wealth. But a sizeable share is income-poor and asset-rich. More than for singles, this phenomenon characterizes nonworking married adults, who are generally better off than their unmarried counterparts.

Posted: April 05, 2013Availability: HTML | PDF

Retirement Plan Assets (Updated 4/13) (Research Brief)
Barbara Butrica

The retirement savings of American households took a big hit when the stock market crashed in 2008. Since then, however, a good portion of these losses has been reversed. This fact sheet reports the value of assets held in retirement accounts and defined benefit plans and how they have changed since 2007-before the stock market crash and the Great Recession. It replaces "Retirement Account Balances"

Posted: April 05, 2013Availability: HTML | PDF

Automatic Enrollment, Employee Compensation, and Retirement Security (Discussion Papers)
Barbara Butrica, Nadia Karamcheva

This study uses restricted microdata from the National Compensation Survey to examine the impact of autoenrollment on employee compensation. By boosting plan participation, automatic enrollment likely increases employer costs as previously unenrolled workers receive matching retirement plan contributions. Our data shows a significant negative correlation between employer match rates and autoenrollment. We find no evidence that total costs differ between firms with and without autoenrollment or that DC costs crowd out other forms of compensation-suggesting that firms might be lowering their match rates enough to completely offset the higher costs of autoenrollment without needing to reduce other compensation costs.

Read the full report here (Leaving the UI web site)

Posted: December 19, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

Age Disparities in Unemployment and Reemployment During the Great Recession and Recovery (Policy Briefs/Unemployment and Recovery)
Richard W. Johnson, Barbara Butrica

As unemployment surged during the Great Recession and subsequent recovery, older workers were less likely than their younger counterparts to lose their jobs. However, unemployed workers in their fifties were about a fifth less likely than those age 25 to 34 to become reemployed between 2008 and 2011, and they experienced steep wage losses. Median hourly earnings for reemployed workers age 51 to 61 were 21 percent lower on the new job than the prelayoff job, compared with only 7 percent for those age 25 to 34. These declines may reflect lost productivity or employer reluctance to hire older workers.

Posted: May 15, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

Retirement Account Balances (Updated 4/12) (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Barbara Butrica

The retirement savings of American households took a big hit when the stock market crashed in 2008. Recently, however, a good portion of these losses has been reversed. This fact sheet follows trends in retirement account balances since the beginning of 2005.

Posted: April 06, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

The Impact of Changes in Couples' Earnings on Married Women's Social Security Benefits (Article)
Barbara Butrica, Karen E. Smith

Women's labor force participation and earnings dramatically increased after World War II. Those changes have important implications for women's Social Security benefits. This article uses the MINT model to examine Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiary wives. The projections show that fewer wives in more recent birth cohorts will be eligible for auxiliary benefits as spouses because their earnings are too high. Most wives will still be eligible for survivor benefits because they typically have lower earnings than their husbands. The share of wives who would be ineligible for widow benefits is projected to double between cohorts.

Posted: March 02, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

This Is Not Your Parents' Retirement: Comparing Retirement Income Across Generations (Research Report)
Barbara Butrica, Karen E. Smith

This article examines how retirement income is likely to change for boomers and persons born in generation X compared with current retirees. We use the MINT model to project retirement income, poverty rates, and replacement rates for current and future retirees at age 67. We find that retirement incomes will increase over time, and poverty rates will fall. Projected income gains are larger for higher than for lower socioeconomic groups, leading to increased income inequality among future retirees. Boomers and GenXers are less likely to have enough postretirement income to maintain their preretirement standard of living compared with current retirees.

Posted: March 02, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Retirement Prospects of Divorced Women in the Baby Boom and Generation X Cohorts (Research Report)
Barbara Butrica, Karen E. Smith

Minority and divorced women have historically experienced double-digit poverty rates in retirement, and demographic trends will increase their representation in future retiree populations. We might expect an increase in the proportion of economically vulnerable divorced women in the future. Factors associated with higher retirement incomes include having a college degree; having strong labor force attachment; receiving Social Security benefits; and having pensions, retirement accounts, or assets, regardless of race and ethnicity. Because divorced minority women are less likely than divorced white women to have these attributes, their projected average retirement incomes are lower than those of divorced white women.

Posted: March 02, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

The Retirement Prospects of Divorced Women (Research Report)
Barbara Butrica, Karen E. Smith

Older divorced women are more likely to be poor than other older women, and historical divorce and remarriage trends suggest that in the future a larger share of retired women will be divorced. This article uses the MINT model to project the retirement resources and well-being of divorced women. We find that Social Security benefits and retirement incomes are projected to increase for divorced women and that their poverty rates are projected to decline, due to women's increasing lifetime earnings. However, not all divorced women will be equally well off; economic well-being in retirement varies by Social Security benefit type.

Posted: March 02, 2012Availability: HTML | PDF

Automatic IRAs and Retirement Security (Video / Commentary)
Barbara Butrica

Barbara Butrica, a senior research associate at the Income and Benefits Policy Center, explains the reasons why many older Americans aren’t financially prepared for retirement, how establishing automatic IRAs can help, and other measures policymakers can take to improve retirement security for their constituents.

Posted: July 28, 2011Availability: HTML

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