Aging and America: Demographic Change and Its Consequences for Work and Retirement

May 2014

In 2012, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences issued a comprehensive report documenting the aging of the U.S. population and analyzing the economic effects this phenomenon may trigger over the next 40 years. The report, Aging and the Macroeconomy: Long-Term Implications of an Older Population, identified two potential policy strategies for mitigating the economic consequences of population aging: 1) enabling people to increase their savings for retirement; and 2) encouraging people to postpone retirement by working longer.1 In November 2013, the TIAA-CREF Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation sponsored a colloquium of researchers and policy analysts to discuss how to help people save more and work longer.2 The colloquium, Towards a Policy Agenda for an Aging America, began with a panel during which the key findings and implications of the National Academy report were reviewed. A second panel discussion focused on improving the planning and saving behavior of American workers. Senator Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Pension and Education Committee, then gave a keynote address, presenting his perspectives on enabling people to save more by improving the U.S. public and private pension system for workers. A final panel focused on research and policy initiatives for longer work. 1 National Research Council. (2012). Aging and the Macroeconomy. Long-Term Implications of an Older Population. Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population. Board on Mathematical Sciences and their Applications, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, and Committee on Population, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. The report is available at: 2 The colloquium was sponsored by a generous grant to the TIAA-CREF Institute from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Colloquium presentations are available at: