[Review of the book 'Retirement Income Opportunities in an Aging America: Income Levels and Adequacy']
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Fields, Gary S.
[Excerpt] The slant of this volume will not appeal to everyone. Consider the following: "During the last twenty years, the elderly's financial status has improved substantially. Today those who are over age 65 receive income from more sources and have greater financial independence than previous generations of elderly. . . . This report concludes that the elderly's income levels and sources will continue to improve during the next twenty years or more" (p. v). But what of the poverty that remains among the elderly, especially single individuals? What of the threat to real social security benefit levels? What of the erosion of unindexed private pension benefits by inflation? What of the omnipresent risk of a financially catastrophic illness or the need for nursing-home care, Medicare and Medicaid benefits notwithstanding? Yes, the elderly on the whole are better off, as the EBRI study tells us, but for large numbers of them, incomes are inadequate by any standard, and few have genuine financial security. The strength of this volume is that it offers enough facts and figures to support these less cheerful interpretations, too. The weakness is that the analytical foundations are vague and implicit.
retirement; income; aging; benefits; pensions
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