America's Retirement System: Winners and Losers
The prognosis isn't worse than in the past, but it is different.
So Far, So Good
Tuesday's column disputed a recent Financial Times claim that moving the U.S. retirement system from one based on defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution plans (which, for simplicity's sake, I will henceforth refer to as 401(k) plans) has harmed American seniors. On the contrary: Poverty rates for retirees are historically low, both in absolute terms and when compared with those of other age groups.
The FT's assertion was not new. For decades there has been a ready, steady supply of articles about America's "retirement crisis." The belief has long been common. To date, however, it has not become true. Relatively speaking, retirees are faring better than ever before.