In 2021, the Schwartz Center’s Retirement Equity Lab (ReLab)—underpinned by its research on older workers and the causes and consequences of retirement insecurity—served as a leading voice in efforts to improve equity and enhance retirement security.
In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Teresa Ghilarducci noted that home equity and retirement wealth, including Social Security, are the largest components of wealth. She concluded that to boost retirement security, Americans need access to what we know works—professionally-managed retirement coverage that allows everyone to benefit from stock markets. Before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, Teresa Ghilarducci spoke on the progress made in the past century on equalizing retirement and the current threats facing the system, including an unfair tax code and the shift to 401(k)-type pensions. Finally, ReLab’s Associate Research Director Siavash Radpour and Teresa Ghilarducci discussed their research on the causes of retirement wealth inequality with the Department of Labor’s Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. They testified that voluntary participation in our employer-based system and the resulting lack of access to plans at work is the primary cause of retirement wealth inequality, resulting in wide gaps in retirement wealth by race.
Since 2012, ReLab has produced frequent reports on older workers’ experiences in the labor market. Using our economic policy expertise, these reports dig deeper into the experiences of this large and growing segment of the labor force to support evidence-based policymaking. Our report in 2021 tracked decreasing labor force participation of older workers and deepening inequality experienced by Black, Hispanic, and Asian workers. To facilitate older workers’ return to work, the report cited policy solutions including aggressive anti-age discrimination enforcement and expanded unemployment benefits.
At the 2021 G-20 summit, economist Willi Semmler, the director of SCEPA’s Economics of Climate Change project, co-authored SCEPA research included as briefing materials provided to each summit participant. The paper addresses how to rebuild the European Union’s willingness to address challenges such as long-term scarring of the labor market, climate change, social and healthcare systems, and sustainability of sovereign debt. To ensure the EU’s progressive future, the authors advocate for a shared policy agenda for recovery.