Insights Blog

2023 In Review

December 22, 2023

As we near the end of 2023, we wish to recognize the collective accomplishments of the year and express gratitude for the dedicated work of our students and scholars in addressing systemic issues and promoting equity.

Our economists have actively contributed to public awareness, academic discussions, and practical policy-making through impactful publications, policy proposals, and events. They have played a significant role in enhancing societal well-being with their research and expertise in domains such as retirement security, climate change, and critical economics.

 

Retirement & Older Workers

In the area of retirement and older workers, SCEPA’s research focused on caregiving, financial fragility, improving retirement security and addressing the challenges faced by older workers. Jessica Forden spearheaded work addressing the inadequacy of the U.S.’s caregiving system, which leaves many aging adults without necessary care. Her work also revealed that unpaid eldercare provided by friends and family comes with costs to caregivers, including the limitations eldercare responsibilities may place on labor force participation and work hours.

A key paper from Teresa Ghilarducci, Siavash Radpour, and Jessica Forden, “No Rest for The Weary: Measuring the Changing Distribution of Wealth in The US” demonstrated that wealth for households nearing retirement in the bottom 90 percent has decreased since 1992. Drystan Phillips showed that many older U.S. workers claim Social Security benefits while still employed, mainly out of financial necessity, challenging the assumption that benefits are claimed only at full retirement. SCEPA researchers assessed a proposed solution, the Social Security Bridge option, finding that such a policy would allow beneficiaries to boost monthly benefits and help protect against downward mobility in retirement, though the policy is not relevant for those with little to no retirement savings.

In "Older Workers and Retirement Security: a Review," Monique Morrisey, Siavash Radpour, and Barbara Shuster highlighted retirement disparities and risks – which include high rents– connecting them to broader labor market challenges and financial fragility.

Finally, Teresa Ghilarducci’s research paved the way for the groundbreaking Retirement Savings for Americans Act (RSAA), which was re- introduced in October 2023 by Senators Sewell, Hickenlooper, and Tillis, and continues to gain traction. The bill aims to improve access to retirement plans, particularly for low- and moderate-income Americans.

 

Climate Change

In the climate change arena, SCEPA took a central role by offering innovative economic and financing solutions. Notably, Willi Semmler actively advocated for green bonds as a means of financing the transition to a low-carbon economy, gaining significant traction. This approach was validated when New York State approved the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, representing a substantial step forward in leveraging financial tools for environmental sustainability. Semmler's book "Sustainable Macroeconomics, Climate Risks, and Energy Transitions," co-authored with Unurjargal Nyambuu, explores the intricate relationship between the economy and climate. To highlight not only his research but also that of his students and collaborators, he hosted a book talk titled “Macroeconomics for a Warming Planet" as well as a Research Workshop on Climate Change, aiming to deepen the understanding of climate-related challenges, particularly for low- and middle-income economies.

 

Critical Economics

SCEPA actively engaged in education, research, and discussions on critical economic issues. Professors Will Milberg, Paulo Dos Santos, and Teresa Ghilarducci from the New School for Social Research collaborated on the free online course "Economics: Society, Markets, and [In]equality" which emerged as a cornerstone effort to immerse learners in the dynamics of economic power. The course aims to provide insights into economic power dynamics and the pros and cons of the current economic system.

SCEPA also actively contributed to economic research, producing papers such as "Is There a Future for Heterodox Economics?" that critically examined the frameworks of economics research and teaching in the U.S. In a series of events, we invited our students and the broader New School community to participate in critical discussions about antitrust policy and wealth in the United States. During the Antitrust Policy and Workers conference, SCEPA and the Communications Workers of America challenged participants to articulate an antitrust agenda consistent with building a more inclusive economy. Discussions also focused on how major corporations can be held accountable and the role the government can play in devising new industrial governance structures.

Notably, the Schwartz Lecture with Dr. Raphael Bostic and the Heilbroner Lecture with Dr. Ellora Derenoncourt further enriched the critical economics discourse by providing insight into the evolution of racial inequality in the United States and the role the Federal Reserve can play in adressing the issue.

Each year we hire students with the goal of supporting their trajectory into academia or the policy world. We are pleased to welcome Karthik Manickam as our 2023 ReLab research associate. Karthik received his MA and MPhil in Economics from the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and has consulted for the World Bank, UNESCAP, and Club of Rome. His research interests include labor, development, and inequality. We’re also happy to report that Barbara Schuster, our former fellow, joined the Momentum Institut in Vienna, Austria as an Economist.

In the year ahead, we look forward to building on the foundations laid this year and are poised to continue influencing economic discussions and policies, driving positive change, and fostering a more equitable and sustainable world.