- On Capitol Hill
- On Wall Street
- In the Press
- Policy Reform Work
Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
Raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare is based on the assumption that elderly Americans can and should work more. In a new SCEPA Policy Note, "Older Workers and Employers' Demands" we present new evidence that rejects the assumption that elderly Americans are physically and mentally able to work for pay later into life and that, by extension, employers will find older people to be desirable employees. We find that older workers' physical and mental job requirements have increased between 1992 and 2008. Our findings align with Neumark and Song's (2012) conclusions that older workers are facing more age discrimination. Together these findings suggest that raising the retirement age – essentially is a cut in benefits – would hurt most older American workers.
This Policy Note describes older workers' self-reported job descriptions in 1992, 2002 and 2008. We access these data from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), which conducts panel surveys biennially with over 5,000 respondents over the age of 50. We find that:
a) the downward trend in the physicality of job demands, observed in 1990s, is trending back up, and;
b) the downward trend in the physical demands of jobs held by the elderly was never apparent for the oldest working cohort, ages 62 to 65, who are eligible for early Social Security retirement.
These findings suggest different policy implications than what Johnson asserts. In particular, attempting to force older Americans to work longer by increasing Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages will have deleterious physical and/or mental impacts on many elderly workers, particular those with more demanding, often lower paying, jobs.
The New York Times ran a letter to the editor by SCEPA Research Assistant Anthony Bonen echoing the report's findings from the perspective of a millennial.
The Brookings Institution Press will publish research by SCEPA Research Assistant Lauren Schmitz in a forthcoming book, Creative Communities: Art Works in Economic Development, about new growth theory and the arts. Schmitz’s chapter, "Do Cultural Tax Districts Buttress Revenue Growth for Arts Organizations? Evidence from Colorado's Scientific and Cultural Facilities District" examines the impact of voter-approved sales taxes to sustain and develop small arts organizations. Schmitz finds these public funds help “crowd in” additional private dollars to support the arts, which contradicts theories that public dollars "crowd out" private funds.
On December 12, 2012, CNN.com posted SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci's response to IBM's decision to contribute to employees' retirement funds only once a year.
"IBM looks better than most companies because most companies are whacking their workers' retirement plans or don't sponsor any at all. GM offered its salaried, white-collar workers a lump sum -- the worst way to get a retirement account because people spend a lump sum too fast -- instead of an annuity. Ford will follow GM's example next year. Fortunately, very few auto managers and workers are taking up such an offer; they must know an annuity is more valuable.
What is there to stop companies from ending retirement accounts altogether? Nothing.
Unions represent less than 11% of the private sector workforce and the unemployment rate is high enough that anyone who has a job feels lucky to have a job. I don't see anything on the horizon that will encourage companies to maintain or improve retirement programs at the workplace.
Political leadership and bravery is needed to call out the failure of the voluntary retirement system and to secure retirement income and savings for all American workers."