The future of retirement programs is troubled, both in the United States and in most other developed countries with aging populations. As improvements in health care and changes in lifestyles enable retirees to live longer than ever before, the stress on national budgets will increase substantially. In "Social Security Programs and Retirement" around the World, Jonathan Gruber, David A. Wise, and experts in many countries examine the consequences of reforming retirement benefits in a dozen nations. Drawing on the work of an international group of noted economists, the editors argue that social security programs provide strong incentives for workers to leave the labor force by retiring and taking the benefits to which they are entitled. By penalizing work, social security systems magnify the increased financial burden caused by aging populations, thus contributing to the insolvency of the system. This book is a model of comparative analysis that evaluates the effects of illustrative policies for countries facing the impending rapid growth of social security benefits. Its insights will help inform this most pressing debate.
Jonathan Gruber is professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the Program on Children at the NBER, where he is a research associate. He is coeditor of the Journal of Public Economics and associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics. David A. Wise is the John F. Stambaugh Professor of Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and director of the Programs on Aging and Health Care at the NBER.