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Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0190218898
ISBN-10: 0190218894
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Falling Short points the way to solving America's retirement challenge simply by optimizing our existing systems. Make Social Security solvent, make workplace savings plans fully automatic, lift savings rates and extend savings plans to all workers. What are we waiting for? Let's do it."
Robert L. Reynolds, President and CEO of Putnam Investments


"I loved this book! It is short, punchy, and highly readable. It provides a full analysis of the grim status of our nation's retirement savings plans and offers solutions that are realistic and long overdue. I recommend it to all those concerned about America's retirement problems, including their own."
John C. Bogle, Founder and Former Chairman and CEO of Vanguard Group


"Illuminating the retirement challenge by combining Munnell and Eschtruth's keen sense of the academic research with the horse sense of famed investment advisor Ellis is a great idea. Read Falling Short; it's brimming with sound advice. Then pass it along to your brothers and sisters."
Alan S. Blinder, Professor of Economics at Princeton University and author of After the Music Stopped


"Many baby boomers are woefully unprepared for retirement. This book proposes both useful actions that individuals can take and institutional changes to 401(k)s and Social Security. This gem of a book makes an important contribution to alleviate a pressing social problem."
Burton Malkiel, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street


"America's retirement savings system has failed. Too many people are retiring with too little to live on. This excellent book nails the changes and incentives needed to restore an aging generation to fiscal health. Every voter and policymaker should read it."
Jane Bryant Quinn, author of Making the Most of Your Money NOW


About the Author


Charles D. Ellis was for three decades managing partner of Greenwich Associates, an international business strategy consulting firm. He has taught advanced courses on investing at the business schools of both Harvard and Yale and has served on the governing boards of Yale University, Harvard Business School, Exeter, NYU Stern, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He currently chairs the Whitehead Institute. Ellis is the author of 16 books, including the bestselling Winning the Loser's Game.

Alicia H. Munnell is the Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences at Boston College's Carroll School of Management. She also serves as the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Before joining Boston College in 1997, Munnell was a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy. Previously, she spent 20 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Munnell has published widely, with a particular focus on retirement security.

Andrew D. Eschtruth is Associate Director for External Relations at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. He directs the Center's communication activities and manages relationships with the government, foundation, and corporate communities. Previously, Eschtruth was a senior analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office specializing in federal fiscal policy and social insurance programs.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 159 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0190218894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0190218898
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.4 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having just turned 65, I'm now in that age range where you wonder if you should keep working or not. All my friends who've retired offer advice to enjoy retirement while you can--"You don't want to be too old to travel," they say. But thankfully I still have a job I love doing, I've got my health and I feel blessed on both accounts. So why retire when work is as fun as ever? Because I'm in this situation, I always click on those online new stories about retiring that describe the increasing difficulties of making ends meet when the income suddenly stops. In fact, I can't get enough of these stories, and I've started reading books like "Unretirement" that came out last Sept and now this book "Falling Short" that's new in Dec.

Both books point out the challenges of retiring when a large percentage of baby boomers won't be able to afford to. In "Unretirement" Chris Farrell puts a lot of faith and hope in baby boomers who have never faced a challenge without looking at in their own terms. He adds great texture to the discussion by telling many uplifting stories about pre-retirees and retirees who have found ways to 'unretire' and make ends meet. Many of these people have created businesses and jobs to help others retire better.

The authors of "Falling Short" do a more statistical and demographic analysis of the problem. They question those who say that everything will work out and emphasize the importance of working until 70 for those--like me--who wonder if it's time to retire. The importance of this analysis is that many if not most of the daily articles and writings about retirement are typically emotionally-based and anecdotal. "Falling Short" explains the history of retirement from the late 1800's up until today.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a lot of redundancy in this short five-chapter book. The reason for the redundancy is that most Americans don't really know even the financial basics of retirement. Too many people are going to find that they don't have enough savings and pension to retire.

According to the three authors the solutions to the coming retirement disaster are:
Work longer, fix Social Security, save more through 401(k) s and consider using home equity or taking a reverse mortgage.

The most important points in the entire book are that people aren't saving enough, don't start saving early enough and that people shouldn't start taking their social security until age 70. A person who waits until age 70 to start taking their social security will get 79% more per month than a person who starts receiving their benefits at age 62.

The authors feel that letting retirees in good health take their benefits at age 62 should not be allowed because the benefits won't be high enough for a satisfactory retirement life style.

The one point the book didn't discuss in detail was how long a retiree needs to live in order to make up for not taking benefits from age 62. Those eight years from 62 to 70 represent a lot of lost benefits to be recouped by people who don't start taking their social security until age 70. If a person dies before age 70, they lose out completely. Most folks need to live into their mid-80's to make up for the payments they forego by waiting until age 70.That's fine if they live into their mid-80s or longer.

But the designers of the Social Security safety net originally picked age 65 for it to begin because most people were dead by that age.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This easy-to-read and compelling book deals with one of the era's most important issues, both to each of us individually and to the nation as a whole. The book demonstrates convincingly that the financial resources being committed by individuals, businesses, and governments to retirement vehicles such as Social Security, pensions, 401ks, and IRAs are inadequate and that current and coming generations face quite reduced circumstances when they stop working. The authors present a concise and impressive, and perhaps unique, history of the national and cultural developments and decisions that led to this unhappy situation. The book also offers a very helpful “income replacement rate” tool for thinking about retirement strategy. It unsentimentally discusses the evident but difficult to apply approaches to “fixing” the daunting shortfalls faced by individuals, enterprises, and governments. “Falling Short” is a must read regardless of whether your political views focus on the community safety net or on individual responsibility. Either way, the authors show us, the outlook is for a discontented aging population burdening younger generations, unless serious changes are made at both public and private levels.
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Format: Hardcover
Generally, the more well-to-do you are the longer you live. There are exceptions, of course. But in the aggregate, the poorer die more quickly. As a strategy to increase earnings potential it makes perfect sense for upper income people to delay retirement and lower income people to take it as soon as they can get it. Early Social Security may be the only "job" some people in their early 60's can find if they've been laid off and its income may not be all that much less than they received in some menial position.

One of the creators of the Social Security system, the economist Alvin Hansen, who lived until 1975 and coined the term "secular stagnation" argued that an aging population (and the US and the rest of the developed world will see a far older population in the next 50 years than the world ever has before) would negatively impact housing demand and that the appetite for investment capital would decline. Whether that happens, we will earn over the course of the next few decades.

I think the authors needed to do more to convince me that their suggested remedies of working longer, relying on increasing interest rates and rising home values really are the effective strategy they suggest. The suggested strategies are not unlike those I have read in some well-meaning newspaper columns and may not work unless interest rates and home values both rise and one remains healthy in a well paid job.
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