Although Social Security has been the topic of widespread discussion in the last decade, solvency problems of the system remain to be addressed. Meanwhile, the large Baby Boomer cohort is beginning to reach retirement age. The economic backdrop is one of almost continuous change: private pensions are shifting from defined-benefit (DB) to defined-contribution (DC); medical technology improves, but its costs challenge budgets; growth rates fluctuate; the distributions of wealth and earnings shift; trade and government budget deficits are sources of concern; and, business cycles rile asset and labor markets. Such times increase the importance of providing policy makers with high-quality, up-to-date scientific knowledge. Fifteen years ago the Social Security Administration (SSA) initiated a program to enhance the quality and quantity of research both inside and outside its walls. The Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) was created as part of that program. This proposal describes how the foundation built in the intervening years can now help to meet the scientific and policy challenges ahead.
This document describes the proposed continuation of the MRRC. The goals of the MRRC are to conduct high-quality research on issues of interest to policy makers, to attract top-notch scholars to the study of Social Security and retirement policy, to communicate policy findings; and, to develop new data sources to strengthen scientific research in the years ahead.
Specific Aims of the MRRC
? To conduct nonpartisan, state-of-the-art scientific research, with the specific focus of deepening understanding of the current and future role of Social Security in promoting and maintaining the well-being of older Americans and their dependents ? simultaneously seeking avenues for strengthening the US economy as a whole.
? To communicate scientific findings in a timely and efficient way to the Social Security Administration (SSA), other policy makers, scholars, and the public.
? To attract scholars from the academic and foundation communities into the study of Social Security issues.
? To develop new data sources and to publicize the availability of these and existing resources.