According to Gallup, running out of money in retirement has ranked as one of Americans’ top concerns since 2001 (Saad 2018). That’s not surprising. Our current patchwork, do-it-yourself retirement system means many workers don’t have access to a retirement account. And, for those who do, they find that the burden—of what to invest in, how to invest, and how to withdraw savings—falls on them, even though they have neither the time nor the expertise to make these choices.
The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k)-style plans, the increase in life expectancy in retirement, and the decline in Social Security benefits as a share of earnings all contribute to more acute retirement anxiety for Americans. But Guaranteed Retirement Accounts are a key policy solution to the retirement crisis. Read the primer to learn how they work, who they would help, and how we got here.