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Falling ShortThe Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It$
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Charles D. Ellis, Alicia H. Munnell, and Andrew D. Eschtruth

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218898

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218898.001.0001

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How Did We Get Here?

How Did We Get Here?

(p.8) [2] How Did We Get Here?
Falling Short

Charles D. Ellis

Alicia H. Munnell

Andrew D. Eschtruth

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the development of the current retirement system in the United States, which can be traced back to the nineteenth century with the emergence of the notion of retirement. It provides critical context for understanding why it is neither feasible nor, in some cases, desirable to go back to the past. Instead the system must continue to evolve to meet the needs and challenges of today and those foreseeable over the coming decades. Topics discussed include the private sector’s establishment of pensions for employees; the federal government’s enactment of Social Security in 1935; the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid; the “golden age” of retirement in the 1980s and 1990s; the shift from defined benefit to 401(k) plans; and retrenchment of Social Security.

Keywords:   retirement benefits, retirement income, pensions, Social Security, defined benefit plans, Medicare, Medicaid

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