Modernizing Our Retirement Programs

It’s time to rethink how we support older Americans through Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and tax breaks on retirement savings.

  • As the nation ages, the share of resources going to retirees will grow steadily, squeezing other public needs and ultimately requiring benefit cuts, tax increases, or both.
  • Many retirement programs discourage work at older ages, suppressing tax revenue and productivity growth.
  • Decades-old program rules no longer make sense in modern workplaces and for evolving families.
  • And despite the resources spent on retirement programs, too many seniors struggle to make ends meet, especially as spending on health care and long-term services and supports continues to rise.

To make sound choices, policymakers need reliable, objective evidence on the likely impacts of different reforms, based on the best available data and rigorous statistical analysis.

With a generous multiyear grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we are examining how potential changes to Social Security, Medicare, financing for long-term services and supports, and tax incentives for retirement saving might affect older adults’ benefits and income, program costs and solvency, tax burdens, and work incentives. Our project uses the Urban Institute’s state-of-the-art Dynamic Simulation of Income Model (DYNASIM) to simulate the likely impact of various policy options. We aim to identify reforms that would improve retirement security (especially for low-income seniors), raise work incentives at older ages, and ensure our retirement programs are sustainable. 



Understanding the Context for Reform 

Policy Analysis