How can Americans recover retirement security, and what role should pensions play going forward? On May 19, the New America Foundation’s Next Social Contract Initiative and the University of California Retirement Security Institute hosted a diverse group of academics, professionals, and policymakers for a forum that sought to identify the “new normal” for retirement security, examine the troubled state of public pensions, and consider best practices for reform.
After introductory remarks by Dr. Kathleen Connell, Executive Director of the UC Retirement Security Institute, and Sherle Schwenninger, Director of the Economic Growth Program, the first panelists examined the current state of retirement security in the aftermath of the financial crisis and Great Recession. They noted in particular the effects of long-term shifts in the distribution of defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans, and assessed the funding status of public pensions. The second panel looked beyond the “new normal” and considered alternative retirement security arrangements. The proposals included a new state-federal cost-sharing arrangement to replace the current state pension system, and guaranteed retirement accounts to replace the 401(k). The third panel outlined the general contours of reform, assessing various options, surveying public opinion, and noting the considerable political challenges involved. Finally, a lunchtime keynote panel featuring pension professionals highlighted best practices for reform at the state, county, and municipal levels.
Video of the welcoming remarks and first panel is featured above; videos of the subsequent panels are available at right.