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Andrew Biggs: Create a Thrift Savings Plan for the Masses

The economist and Social Security expert discusses whether or not there's a retirement crisis, and how the U.S. government's retirement plan could be a model for how low- and middle-income workers save.

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We’ve been exploring the state of retirement in the United States on The Long View. Last week, we talked with progressive labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci. On this week’s episode, we chatted with Andrew Biggs, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is more sanguine about the state of retirement in the U.S., though he is also in favor of some reforms. Andrew is an expert on Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits. Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, where he oversaw the agency's policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of then-President George W. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. He holds a bachelor's degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master's degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.



The American Enterprise Institute

State of Retirement in the U.S.

The Model of Income in the Near Term (MINT)

National Retirement Risk Index

Social Security Replacement Rates and Other Benefit Measures: An In-Depth Analysis,” Congressional Budget Office,, April 2019.

How Do Children Affect the Need to Save for Retirement?” by Andrew Biggs,, Dec. 16, 2019.

Two Decades Ago, Progressives Warned of a Retirement Crisis. It Didn’t Happen,” by Andrew Biggs,, May 29, 2020.

Opinion: Here’s Some Good News for Parents Struggling to Save Enough for Retirement,” by Andrew Biggs,, Jan. 26, 2020.

Improving the Measurement of Retirement Income of the Aged Population,” by Irena Dushi and Brad Trenkamp,, January 2021.

At Last, Some Action on Misleading Retirement Income Statistics,” by Andrew Biggs,, April 29, 2021.

Social Security

Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs: A Summary of the 2020 Annual Reports,”

Obama Appoints Social Security Critic to Fix Puerto Rico’s Budget,” by David Dayen,, Aug. 31, 2016.

Social Security Benefits Aren’t Earned If You Didn’t Pay for Them,” by Andrew Biggs,, March 12, 2020.

Americans Want to Own Their Retirement, not Expand Social Security,” by Andrew Biggs,, June 19, 2020.

Factcheck: Do 40% of Retirees Rely on Social Security for Their Entire Income?” by Andrew Biggs,, Jan. 27, 2020.

PWBM Budget Contest: A Flat Benefit for Social Security,” by Andrew Biggs,, Jan. 26, 2021.

Social Security Reform Can Boost the Economy--or Hold it Back,” Andrew Biggs,, March 26, 2021.

Retirement Savings and Decumulation

Thrift Savings Plan

How Generous Are Federal Employee Pensions?” by Andrew Biggs,, Sept. 30, 2011.

Can Retirement Saving Increase Your Debt?” by Andrew Biggs,, Jan. 8, 2018.

How Hard Should We Push the Poor to Save for Retirement?” by Andrew Biggs,, May 6, 2019.

Opinion: Stop Pushing Poor People to Save More for Retirement,” by Andrew Biggs,, Sept. 12, 2019.

Factcheck: Will Half of Americans Over 55 Retire Poor?” by Andrew Biggs,, Oct. 8, 2020.

Follow the Facts: Employer-Based Retirement Savings Are Stronger Than Ever,” by Andrew Biggs,, Aug. 21. 2020.

Opinion: Now That Annuities Can Be Part of Your 401(k), Here’s How to Make Them More Palatable,” by Andrew Biggs,, Jan. 11, 2020.