The near-retirees interviewed in Robert Weisman’s “With market swings, no rest for retirees” (Page A1, Sept. 4) are understandably nervous about their financial future. If the market wobbles, their retirement could rapidly become much less comfortable than they hope.
The article didn’t mention that the insecurity these relatively comfortable retirees are facing is part of a longer and larger story of growing financial instability and insecurity for families in the United States. During the past 40 years, the risks of planning for a stable, secure retirement have gradually been transferred from employers and government to individuals.
This experiment has failed. With the effective end of secure defined-benefit pensions, more than a third of all workers approaching retirement age have no retirement savings or pension coverage at all. Retirement security is an issue for everyone. Most middle-class families approaching retirement couldn’t weather a job loss or health crisis and still retire comfortably. They can’t bear the risk alone, and they shouldn’t have to.
Everyone should be able to retire without financial fear at the end of a long working life. We need a renewed commitment to strengthening Social Security and expanding secure retirement plans through employers, because we’re all in this together.
The author studies work and aging at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.