- 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.
SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci takes on an old and misinterpreted explanation for people's failure to adequately prepare for retirement in"The Real Reason People Don't Save Enough for Retirement." Put simply, it's because we are different. Some of us have characteristics that lead us to save more, others don't.
The topic here is the Big Five Personality Traits, known as OCEAN (or CANOE), which stands for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has researched the connection between personality types and savings. Her findings are not tremendously surprising: those who are most conscientious--efficient, organized, and careful--are most likely to be successful savers.
What does this mean for retirement policy? Victorian-era social reformers enacted financial literacy campaigns, especially for young girls, to thrust conscientious upon them. Today, most boards of education impose compound interest exercises on their elementary school students to imprint good saving behavior in their DNA. Several states make their fourth graders play stock-market and IRA-inspired games in class.
Changing personalities is hard at best. And is it a worthy goal? Diverse personalities produce the variation in opinions, ideas, and products that make life interesting and exciting. Instead, we should implement retirement reform that is effective regardless of personality type by creating Guaranteed Retirement Accounts: mandatory, pooled savings accounts into which workers and their employers contribute every year. GRAs would allow Americans to enjoy the dignified retirements they deserve, regardless where they come down in the "Big Five."
The Department of Labor today announced the September unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 55-64 was 3.6%. A slight decrease (0.4%) from last month's rate of 4.0%, this represents 945,000 older workers struggling in the labor market.
But economists know this number is too low and underestimates how soft the labor market is, for three reasons.
The first two apply to all workers. By counting only those who have searched for a job within the past four weeks, it leaves out people working part-time because they can't find a full-time job and "discouraged" workers who haven't been able to find a job for so long they have stopped looking. These are known as the hidden unemployed.
In September, for workers 55-64, adding the 196,000 discouraged and 167,000 involuntarily part-time workers to those officially unemployed increases the total unemployed to 1,308,000, an increase of 28%. Going back to 2014, this real unemployment rate for workers 55-64 would be up to 30% higher.
For older workers, this adjusted number is still too low. If they can't find a job or can only find a low-wage or part-time job, older workers have the option to leave the ranks of the officially unemployed, or even the discouraged, and retire early. While this sounds like a good option, these folks pay a steep price for choosing to leave an unfriendly labor market. Known as being "pushed" into retirement, they are in danger of facing downward mobility throughout their old age by accessing Social Security and their retirement savings earlier than planned.
The labor market for older workers is far more vulnerable in real life than in statistics. This reality proves that proposals to raise the retirement age would only exacerbate this labor mismatch - further increasing the supply of older workers without a corresponding increase in the supply of employment opportunities. It also highlights the need to create savings vehicles for workers, such as Guaranteed Retirement Accounts, that would provide a lifetime stream of income to retirees to help them maintain their living standards should they chose to leave the labor market.
SCEPA Economist Willi Semmler published a new book, Reconstructing Keynesian Macroeconomics Volume 3, coauthored with Carl Chiarella from Australia's University of Technology and Peter Flaschel from Germany's Bielefeld University.
The final of a three volume series which reinterprets and restructures Keynesian macroeconomic thinking, the book focuses on the interaction between the real economy (where goods and services are exchanged) and the financial markets (where money is borrowed and lent). The authors provide a detailed investigation of the financial, goods, and labor markets and show how variations in one can be stabilized or amplified by changes in another. Using novel empirical methods to test their conclusions, the authors propose a framework for policymakers' use in the modern economy.