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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 1, March 2013

The Bulletin on Aging & Health

The adequacy of retirement saving has become an area of increasing concern for policy makers and the general public, in light of a shifting private pension landscape that puts more responsibility on individuals to save for retirement and looming fiscal challenges that may lead to future cuts in public old age support programs. The U.S. and many other developed countries spend substantial amounts on policies to encourage individuals to save for retirement; for instance, the U...

Research Summaries

Article
While health insurance offers valuable protection against the risk of incurring large health expenses when a serious illness strikes, it has long been understood that there is a down-side to insurance as well — by making health care cheaper (lowering its cost to a generally modest copayment), health insurance may induce people to consume more health care. This phenomenon, known as "moral hazard," can result in the inefficient overuse of health care, as individuals opt to...
Article
The recent financial and economic crisis and lingering low interest rates have heightened concerns about the ability of state and local governments to pay promised pension benefits to their current and future retired workers. By some estimates, the present value of pension promises may exceed pension system assets by $3 trillion. While there are numerous studies of the extent of underfunding in public pensions, the past literature has generally not focused on the tax...
Article
Relatively few U.S. households annuitize their private pension balances at retirement or purchase annuities with other assets. In defined benefit (DB) pension plans that offer the choice of receiving benefits as an annuity or a lump sum, between 50 and 75 percent of benefits are taken as a lump sum, even though receiving an annuity is the default option. In defined contribution (DC) plans, only 10 percent of those leaving their jobs after age 65 choose to annuitize....
Article
With the U.S. Disability Insurance (DI) program serving an ever-increasing number of beneficiaries and the DI trust fund projected to be exhausted by 2016, the DI program is likely to be the object of increasing scrutiny by policy makers in coming years. A solid base of research will be needed to inform the evaluation and design of DI policies. Yet currently there are major gaps in our understanding of the economic consequences of disability. One study that aims to help...

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