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Pensions, Social Security, and the Privatization of Risk (A Columbia / SSRC Book (Privatization of Risk)) Hardcover – April 15, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0231146944 ISBN-10: 0231146949

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Current economic turmoil has brought home to us all what pension experts have long been warning: that the prospects for retirement income security for a vast majority of Americans have been steadily eroding in recent decades. Therefore this volume is certainly timely, but it is also trenchant, and, mercifully, accessible to a concerned but non-specialist readership. The authors provide an excellent overview of the causes and consequences of this erosion—as well as reflections on the implications of the financial market crisis-and offer numerous well-thought-out remedies, ranging from strengthening the role of Social Security and modestly tweaking our voluntary private pension system to the creation of a new, mandatory 'third tier' of government supported, workplace-based retirement savings accounts. In short, a most valuable contribution to what should have been a more informed and wide-ranging debate than we have witnessed over the past several years.

(John L. Palmer, University Professor at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and former Public Trustee for Medicare and Social Security)

More About the Author

Mitchell A. Orenstein is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Professor Orenstein studies the politics of economic reform worldwide. His research has concentrated on the global spread of pension privatization, Central and East European economic transitions, and strategies of democratization.

Orenstein's first book, Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Postcommunist Europe (University of Michigan Press, 2001), won the 1997 Gabriel A. Almond Award of the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in comparative politics. This book compares strategies for economic reform adopted in the Czech Republic and Poland after 1989 and their political, economic, and distributional consequences. It shows why democracies, under certain circumstances, can be more effective than dictatorships in economic policy making.

Privatizing Pensions: The Transnational Campaign for Social Security Reform (Princeton University Press, 2008) won the 2009 Charles H. Levine Prize of the International Political Science Association for a book that "makes a contribution of considerable theoretical or practical significance in the field of public policy and administration, takes an explicitly comparative perspective, and is written in an accessible style." Privatizing Pensions demonstrates the impact of a coalition of transnational actors led by the World Bank on pension privatization worldwide. This study shows that transnational actors can exert a powerful influence on domestic policy reform in democratic states despite lacking direct veto power, by influencing the ideas and policy preferences of domestic veto players.

Pensions, Social Security, and the Privatization of Risk (Columbia University Press, 2009) examines pension reform options for the United States under the Obama administration, drawing lessons from international experience. Professor Orenstein continues to study the effect of transnational actors on policy-making in democratic states and is starting a new project on the crisis of free market capitalism.

Professor Orenstein has also published two books on European social policy with the World Bank. Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle, co-authored with Dena Ringold and Erika Wilkens, is a seminal study of Roma poverty, sociology, and public health. It won the Voter's Choice Award for the most innovative analytical and advisory activity and the World Bank Europe/Central Asia Knowledge Fair in 2004. Pension Reform in Europe: Process and Progress, co-edited with Robert Holzmann and Michal Rutkowski, analyzes the political economy of pension reform throughout the European Union.

Orenstein's teaching encompasses the fields of comparative politics, European studies, and international political economy. He teaches the SAIS core course Comparative National Systems, providing a general framework for comparative policy analysis. Professor Orenstein's class on the Political Economy of Transition in Central and Eastern Europe prepares students for a separate, student-organized research trip to Central and Eastern Europe during the January intersession, supported by a grant from the European Union through the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University and the Hirsch endowment. He also teaches Free Market in Crisis, Varieties of Capitalism, and International Political Economy research seminar.

Prior to joining the faculty of Johns Hopkins University in 2007, Orenstein held appointments at Harvard, Yale, Brown, Syracuse, and Moscow State Universities. He currently holds an appointment as Senior Fellow of the Center for European Policy Analysis. Orenstein's research has been recognized with fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has consulted for the World Bank, USAID, the government of Slovakia, and other organizations. Professor Orenstein has lived for several years in Europe - in Britain, France, Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia. His hobbies include travel, piano, and coaching baseball.

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