Social Security is in jeopardy, private pension systems have fallen apart, and workers are trying to save on their own for retirement with the stock market in the worst shape since the Great Depression. In The Predictable Surprise, Sylvester J. Schieber shows that forewarnings of the coming retirement crisis have been apparent for decades, but we have never mustered the political will to address the problem. This book explains how we have gotten into the retirement predicament and where we can go from here. Schieber, a renowned authority on this topic, provides a compact, insightful history of Social Security, pension plans, and other retirement options, highlighting both their original justifications and the point when things began to go wrong. He brings his discussion right up to the present morass and concludes with suggestions as to how we can reform our retirement system. Our situation is not hopeless, Schieber concludes, if we take on some of these issues and resolve them. If we do not, we will severely jeopardize the prosperity of younger generations.

Editorial Reviews
  • "The topic is very timely as the entire retirement system in the US is under pressure with firms and governments facing financial problems...The author is a well known expert in the field of retirement income and has written widely on these topics. He reaches out to the reader by presenting real stories that illustrate important points. Schieber relies on his background as an executive of a benefit consulting firm, his work with the government on Social Security, and his expertise as an economist. Blending these career experiences, he is able to consider the American retirement system from a variety of perspectives..."--Robert Clark, Professor of Economics and Business Management, North Carolina State University 
  • "Schieber cuts through the thicket of rhetoric and specialized knowledge to reveal the interplay of demographics, economic conditions, politics, and government regulations that have led to this current crisis. It's hard not to share Schieber's respect for the architects of Social Security and what they accomplished during difficult times, and his regret that the current political climate doesn't encourage thoughtful discussion of needed reforms. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to engage in that discussion." --Publishers Weekly 
  • "The discussion necessarily gets deep into the weeds--analysts and policymakers will welcome the thoroughness--but general readers will appreciate Schieber's efforts to warm the material with quotations from Sophocles, Confucius, Dickens, Churchill, Lewis Carroll and even Mae West, and to demystify the arcana with a plethora of table, charts and graphs, and a useful glossary . . . Precisely the sort of levelheaded, serious discussion our political leaders appear so unwilling to conduct."--Kirkus Reviews 
  • Finalist for the 2012 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award For Outstanding Scholarly Writing On Lifelong Financial Security 
  • Selected one of CHOICE's "Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012"
  • "Schieber probably knows more about American retirement programs than anyone. He has advised the Social Security system, consulted with private firms and written widely on the subject. His book shows how today's 'entitlement' psychology dates to Social Security's muddled beginnings."--Robert Samuelson, Washington Post
  • "There are at least three reasons why Syl Schieber's work may be unique in the retirement security field. First, he is equally an expert about Social Security and about private-sector pensions. Second, he has a rare command of how the history of each system has led to its present condition. And third, he is an exceptionally creative analyst, going wherever the evidence leads and unconstrained by ideology. The Predictable Surprise may be the best book yet written for those who want to understand each of Social Security, private pensions, state pensions and the interrelationship between them. One hopes that it will be widely read by key decisionmakers at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue."--Charles Blahous, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason Univeristy, former Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
About the Author

Sylvester J. Schieber is Vice President, Research and Information Center, Watson Wyatt Worldwide in Washington, DC. Prior to joining Watson Wyatt in 1983, he served as the first research director at the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, DC. Before that he served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Policy Analysis, US Social Security Administration. Also at Social Security he served as the Deputy Research Director of the Universal Social Security Study, a congressionally mandated study that evaluated whether remaining federal and state and local government workers outside the system should be included. Dr Schieber has authored or edited ten books by himself or with colleagues. These include the seventh and eighth editions of the Fundamentals of Private Pensions. His 1999 book with John B. Shoven, The Real Deal: The History and Future of Social Security, received special recognition in the 2000 Paul A. Samuelson Prize competition for economic writing. Dr Schieber served as a senior advisor to the organizers of the Global Aging Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was appointed to the 1994 6 Advisory Council on Social Security convened by the Bill Clinton Administration. He was appointed to a six-year term on the US Social Security Advisory Board in 1997 and reappointed for another term in 2003.


Product Details
Author:  Sylvester J. Schieber
ISBN:  0199890951
Publisher:  Oxford University Press,USA
Publish Date:  March 01, 2012
Pages:  452 pages
Dimensions:  1.5" H x 9.3" L x 6.1" W (1.7 lbs) 


The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System

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