Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

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Working Paper

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A fundamental question in the retirement area is whether people will have adequate retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. Existing studies offer conflicting assessments; some indicate a serious problem while others present an optimistic view. This chapter attempts to explain why the assessments differ. We find that the optimistic views of retirement preparedness depend crucially on behavioral assumptions that may not reflect real world activity or on consumption levels that are unsustainable in the long run. Thus, our best assessment is that retirees are falling short and will fall increasingly short over time.


The published version of this Working Paper may be found in the 2016 publication: Reimagining Pensions.

The research reported herein was pursuant to a grant from the US Social Security Administration (SSA), funded as part of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC). The findings and conclusions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of SSA, any agency of the federal government, the RRC, or Boston College. The authors would like to thank Natalia Orlova and Rebecca Cannon Fraenkel for major contributions to the research and Dina Bleckman for timely research assistance.


retirement, retirement income, retirement security, saving, consumption, replacement rate, Social Security, 401(k), reverse mortgage

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Copyright/Permission Statement

All opinions, errors, findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the authors and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2014 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 26 June 2019