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When I'm Sixty-Four: The Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them Hardcover – May 18, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0691114316 ISBN-10: 0691114315 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (May 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691114315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691114316
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Passionate...In [Ghilarducci's] plan, the funds would not be managed by Wall Street but sent to Washington, where the federal government would guarantee a minimum return of 3 percent a year...The conception behind Ghilarducci's dramatic proposals makes sense. If Americans cannot, without heavy sacrifice, save enough themselves to ensure adequate retirement, perhaps government, backed with subsidies should, as she suggests, make them save."--Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books

"When I'm Sixty-Four is an excellent book . . . and makes a bold and workable proposal."--Clive Crook, Chronicle of Higher Education

"Teresa Ghilarducci's When I'm Sixty-Four is quite simply the best thing yet written on the retirement crisis facing baby boomers and the larger fragility of our retirement system. Far from defeatist, she proposes an ingenious national plan that will instantly become the reform against which all others must measure up. In clear prose, Teresa Ghilarducci cuts to the essence of an often bewildering subject that affects every American."--Robert Kuttner, American Prospect

"Teresa Ghilarducci isn't one for conventional wisdom. In When I'm Sixty-Four [she] argues that a rich nation ought to be able to ensure a secure old age. And she has a radical proposal for making that happen."--Pat Regnier, Money Magazine

"What's the difference between saving for retirement, on the one hand, and plain old saving, on the other? Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at the New School, has a provocative book . . . which forces us to ask that question very seriously."--Felix Salmon, Portfolio.com

"What I like about Ghilarducci's proposal is its boldness--the idea that it is better to create a new model than to keep retrofitting a system that presents unacceptable risk to so many workers."--Martha M. Hamilton, Washington Post

"This volume provides a welcome curative to the daily news reports on the imminent retirement crisis facing the US because of falling birthrates, lengthening life spans, uncertain national economic performance, deliberate corporate gutting of programs, wage stagnation, and the potential Social Security fund insolvency. Ghilarducci carefully guides the reader through the morass of claims and counterclaims about the prospects for those entering their 'golden years' in the US. . . . Ghiladrucci's timely book addresses an important public policy issue."--D.J. Conger, Choice

"The book reads easily and well throughout, and I like the frequent boxes setting out 'Data to Digest' and 'The Bottom Line.' The diagnosis is powerful and hits many nails on the head."--Nicholas Barr, Journal of Economic Literature

"This precise moment in history is probably the ideal one to read Teresa Ghilarducci's When I'm Sixty-Four. . . . Its value to labor educators lies in Ghilarducci's thorough examination of the issue and in her extensive supporting documentation."--Judi King, Labor Studies Journal

From the Inside Flap

"This is an insightful book on an important topic. Policymakers know that the baby boomers are facing a precarious retirement future. But most baby boomers do not appear to be concerned. Ghilarducci's analysis is a warning call designed to shake up the complacency. She proposes a bold plan to shore up the eroding economic foundations of retirement in America."--Laura D'Andrea Tyson, University of California, Berkeley

"At last! A robust, reliable, and highly readable reaffirmation of the right to retire. Teresa Ghilarducci is America's leading pension economist, defender of Social Security, and scourge of schemes to bilk the elderly. Here she tells it straight: what's right, what's wrong, and what should be done."--James K. Galbraith, University of Texas, Austin

"A blockbuster. This book addresses a hot topic. It is timely and full of interesting arguments, materials, and facts."--Thomas I. Palley, author of Plenty of Nothing

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dale C. Maley VINE VOICE on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A little background on myself before I start the review: I have read over 200 books on investing, so I count myself lucky if I learn 1 new thing for each new book I read. I'm an engineer, so in my opinion, my pay falls in the middle-class segment of the US. I have been a big fan of index fund investing since 1990.

Near the beginning of this book, the author argues the typical 70-80% replacement ratio of income at retirement is too low......she argues it should be 100% for the average worker and more than 100% for low income workers......primarily due to high future medical expenses. Kotlikoff likes to blast the 70-80% replacement rule-of-thumb and says it is way too high for most people because of a conspiracy in the investment community (mutual funds, brokerage firms) to tell people to over-save........because the higher the level of savings........the higher the profits for the investment community. If you run the numbers for different cases, you will find the 70-80% rule-of-thumb varies dramatically from maybe 40% up to 100% depending on the specific household.

The author argues that with no pension and no social security, the average worker would need to save 20% of every paycheck and get a return after taxes and fees of 4% to create their own pension. She argues that most people will never save this much unless they are forced by the government to save.

The author speculates that most people don't buy annuities because either they fear they will die too soon to collect the payouts or they feel they can invest it better than an insurance company.

On page 129, the author constructs an interesting table comparing the risk of defined benefit versus defined contribution pension plans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was assigned this book as part of an undergraduate research project and corresponding internship. I thought I would save some time and money by buying the Kindle version and I wish I hadn't. The book is wonderful: full of insights into the retirement crisis in America and very pertinent to the work I am doing. In fact, I'm hoping to read more of the author's work going forward. She is emerging as one of my favorite labor economists on the subject of retirement.

Her writing is clearly outlined, which makes it an easy read, even for those who might not be familiar with the terms of the trade. That said, she doesn't dumb things down too much, making it challenging and entertaining, preventing boredom on an otherwise fairly dry topic. Throughout the book, I have stopped to do further research with regard to my personal retirement situation, based on issues that she brings up. My hope is that more people read this than actually will... I think it would change the political climate a bit if people really understood what was happening policy-wise to create this crisis.

So, I loved the book itself, but was very upset to discover not only a slew of gross misspellings (such as "vohmtary" instead of "voluntary"), but also inaccurate data reporting, such as the reporting of the difference between 9.6% and 68.4% being just over 27% and the difference between 50% and 81% being much higher than that (doing the math, the first difference is 58.8%, which does not make sense in the context of what was said and I figured out that 9.6% should have been 39.6%). This is far worse than the occasional misspelled word in my opinion, and detracts significantly from the appeal of the Kindle. Why would I pay anything for an ebook that so dramatically differs from the original text? Ugh.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Going to give the hard copy to a navy ship library operated by civil servants so if they get bored, they may find interesting
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent take on what to expect today and in the future from on-going pension programs. Everybody who is approaching sixty-four or even sooner should read this book.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on November 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
For many Americans, the dream of a safe, secure retirement has become a cruel joke. Elderly people without pensions find themselves trying to squeeze by on Social Security as they work part time for minimum wage serving hamburgers or greeting customers at discount stores. Some have money saved, but the overall U.S. savings rate is way down. For most workers, reliable pensions are becoming a thing of the past, just as costs are rising. Pension expert Teresa Ghilarducci explains that Social Security is under threat, even though many retirees have no other source of income. What is to be done? At this point, Ghilarducci stops analyzing and starts recommending. Americans need a bold, new government program offering "Guaranteed Retirement Accounts" (GRAs). She asserts that - given a burst of radical change - this idea can provide safe, secure incomes for U.S. elders. getAbstract finds that even though some readers might dispute her political conclusions and the fine points of her alternative plan, Ghilarducci cares passionately about retirement policy and provokes a meaningful conversation for those who hope for a dignified retirement.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Charles L. DeFanti Jr. on December 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book basher lives up to his or her name. I checked book basher's
complaints out. In fact, this book is written by a world-renowned
authority in retirement policy. One of her recent publications is in
what is unquestionably a major journal -- "Journal of Pension Economics and Finance." She is currently Professor of Economics and the Schwartz Chair in Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Resarch. Just yesterday, Dec. 14, the New York Times magazine cited her plan for Guaranteed Retirement Account (GRA) as one of the best ideas in 2008. "Book basher"-- by the way why would someone raise themselves up with the identity of a destroyer?" -- made the classic mistake in evaluating the stock market's future by looking backward and choosing a thirty year period to make a judgment about stock market returns. Book basher forgets that what we know happened wasn't apparent before it happened. All professionals know that what was a sure thing looking backwards was a risky venture looking forward. The 30-year window is of absolutely no relevance for someone who works forty years and is left with no choice when approaching retirement age. There is no product on the market, nor can there ever be, that will pay a risk free rate of 3% PLUS inflation. Only the richest and most stable government on earth can guarantee that rate -- it is linked to the growth rate of the US economy -- over all lifetimes.

I agree, 70% of final income for retirement is not adequate for most
people. Ghilarducci says directly in her book that personal
responsibility is still required. All middle class people, and those who
have more income will have to save more than the 5% the GRA requires.
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