Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Low and moderate income retirees face considerable changes as they try to maintain their standard of living. Managing their assets and debts are important to the well-being of these households. We analyze how recent low and moderate income retirees utilize retirement savings and provide evidence on their financial fragility using survey data on public employees in North Carolina who retired between 2009 and 2014. Many of these public retirees cannot come up with emergency cash. A quarter of our sample maintain high-interest debt while leaving low-return funds in retirement saving plans. We show that suboptimal debt holding is associated with lower household income and lower financial literacy.


The published version of this working paper may be found in the 2020 publication: Remaking Retirement: Debt in an Aging Economy.


Older adults, low income retirees, moderate income retirees, retirement savings, public employees, North Carolina, financial literacy

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the author(s) and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2019 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.

Additional Files

WP 2019 - 16 - Clark & Liu - OnlineAppendix.pdf (444 kB)
Online Appendix

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 25 September 2019