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Retirement Security Project

Retirement Security Project

Most Americans are not saving enough for retirement. The Retirement Security Project found that more than half of all U.S. households had zero savings in an employer-based 401(k)-type plan or tax-preferred savings plan account—and the  median savings for those who did hold such accounts was only $34,000.

From 2004 to 2010, Pew worked in partnership with Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute and the Brookings Institution on the Retirement Security Project, dedicated to promoting common-sense solutions that will improve the retirement income prospects of millions of American workers. The project promoted best practices for retirement savings, such as having employees "opt out" of 401(k) plans rather than "opting in." In addition, the project published policy and legislative analyses, original research, and working and discussion papers. Project staff have presented testimony to Congress.

The Retirement Security Project also hosted public forums on retirement security and conducted outreach and communication on the topic. These efforts promoted better retirement savings practices and policies as well as keeping the public informed about important new developments.

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The Potential Effects of Retirement Security Project Proposals on Private and National Saving

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This paper from The Retirement Security Project provides rough, ballpark calculations of how several recent proposals could affect private and national saving. The proposals, aimed at improving retirement security for middle- and low-income households, include automatic 401(k)s, automatic IRAs, an expanded and permanent Saver's Credit, split refund capability, and asset test reforms. With the current net national saving rate at about 2.5 percent of GDP, these proposals have the potential to raise net national saving by almost a quarter.

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Protecting Low-Income Families' Savings

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The eligibility rules for certain means-tested programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid often discourage saving for retirement by people who are potentially otherwise eligible for and may need these programs. By excluding 401(k) and IRA savings from these asset tests, we would increase the likelihood that lower-income earners will save for retirement. Those who do the right thing by saving should not be excluded from programs that help so many Americans make it through hard times.

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