This paper provides an overview of the U.S. system of pensions and tax-preferred saving, examines the effects of current policies, and evaluates proposals for reform. In light of lengthening life spans, earlier retirement, and projected financial shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare, the financial status of the elderly in the future will depend heavily on private saving for retirement. The central goal of the private pension system should be to encourage or provide adequate and secure retirement income in a cost-efficient and equitable manner. Pension reforms should focus on expanding benefits for lower- and middle-income households, improving incentives and opportunities to diversify investments, increasing financial education, improving the structure and rules regarding cash balance plans, and simplifying and strengthening non-discrimination rules.
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