Retirement saving plays an important role in the U.S. economy. Americans hold more than $18 trillion in private retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, while defined benefit pensions in the private and public sector hold trillions more. Social Security and Medicare comprise nearly 40 percent of the federal budget. The government also provides tax subsidies for retirement saving, and funds Medicaid, which covers elder long-term care. Yet despite existing research, policymakers do not have access to reliable data when making decisions that affect the retirement security of tens of millions of families. There are many major outstanding questions:
Making effective evidence-based policy requires both a comprehensive understanding of the policy challenge and attendant remedies, as well as the will and ability to implement the necessary reforms. The federal government should commission a large-scale panel survey that, coupled with linked administrative data, provides detailed information on household wealth, labor market, health and demographic data. No current data set provides such information.
You can find the full Retirement Security Project at Brookings paper here.