Media Mentions

NY Times | Was the 401(k) a Mistake?

May 13, 2024

The savings shortfall is no surprise to Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at the New School in New York. She has long predicted that the shift to 401(k)s would leave vast numbers of Americans without enough money to retire on, reducing many of them to poverty or forcing them to continue working into their late 60s and beyond. That so many people still do not have 401(k)s or find themselves, like Jen Forbus, in such tenuous circumstances when they do, is proof that what she refers to as this “40-year experiment with do-it-yourself pensions” has been “an utter failure.”

It certainly appears to be failing a large segment of the working population, and while Ghilarducci has been making that case for years, more and more people are now coming around to her view. Her latest book, “Work, Retire, Repeat: The Uncertainty of Retirement in the New Economy,” which was published in March, is drawing a lot of attention: She has been interviewed on NPR and C-SPAN and has testified on Capitol Hill.

It is no longer just fellow progressives who are receptive to her message. Ghilarducci used to be an object of scorn on the right, once drawing the megaphonic wrath of Rush Limbaugh. Today, though, even some conservatives admit that her assessment of the retirement system is basically correct. Indeed, Kevin Hassett, who was a senior economic adviser to President Trump, teamed up with Ghilarducci not long ago to devise a plan that would help low- and middle-income Americans save more for retirement. Their proposal is the basis for legislation currently before Congress.

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