Teresa Ghilarducci

Teresa Ghilarducci is a professor of economics at Notre Dame and author of the forthcoming book, The Attack on Retirement.

Recent Articles

The Collapse of Secure Retirement

The dream of a modestly middle-class retirement is fading.

While many in Washington and on Wall Street are talking about cutting Social Security, the real problem is that America's patchwork retirement system is already eroding. Once, the majority of America's seniors could look forward to at least a modestly middle-class retirement. That dream is fading. America's retirement system is said to be a three-legged stool made up of private savings, pension plans, and Social Security. But each leg of the stool is wobbly, while a fourth unacknowledged leg -- asset accumulation from home equity -- has also taken a huge hit. Absent drastic changes in retirement policy, more elderly Americans will be poor, and many more will be working, often in low-wage jobs, because they can't afford to retire. Even without further cuts, the normal Social Security retirement age is set to increase to 67 in 2022. Compared to where it was before the last major changes enacted in 1983, Social Security has already been cut close to 20 percent, in terms of how much wage...

Forget Retirement. Get to Work.

A popular myth is that because we live longer, we should work longer. But while Americans indeed enjoy longer life spans, a great many are not happy to be in the paid workforce. They are working not for the social or intellectual stimulation but out of plain economic need. They are working because America's pension system is collapsing -- and the more it collapses, the more older Americans will have to work. Further, when financially independent retirees are not dependent on paid employment, it's good for the economy as well as for older people themselves. For one thing, secure retirement frees jobs for younger workers. For another, it helps maintain demand during economic downturns. And with both fathers and mothers of young children increasingly in the paid labor force, pensioners are a source of civic and volunteer energy for their communities. Yet the prevailing wisdom is that old folks need to go back to work to ease the strain on retirement systems. Even some liberals are...

Rewarding Work: Feasible Antipoverty Policy

A higher minimum wage and the earned income tax credit fit like puzzle pieces, each compensating for the other's flaws. Together they are our best bet to fight poverty.

V irtually all economists who have studied the changing income distribution have confirmed what nearly everyone else knows. For most Americans, living standards are stagnating and becoming more unstable. For the bottom half, income is falling. And the prime culprit is not shifts in family values or the work ethic, or even changes in taxes and social benefits. Most of the problem is the erosion of wage and salary income. The causes are multiple [see Bluestone, " The Inequality Express ," TAP , Winter 1995], but there are proven methods for cushioning the impact by raising incomes at the bottom and providing "wage insurance" for those at risk. Chief among these are the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit (EITC). The two fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Each has an inherent weakness—but the weakness in one is precisely the strength of the other. The problem is that the real value of the minimum wage is shrinking and the EITC is under attack. THE FATE OF AMERICAN INCOMES...