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Highlights

Recent losses in the stock market and poor economic conditions underscore that many U.S. workers are at risk of not having an adequate income in retirement from pension plans. The dramatic decline in the stock market has diminished pension savings and reportedly led to low levels in older Americans' confidence in their ability to retire. Even before the current economic recession, research indicated that pension benefits are likely to be inadequate for many Americans. This report addresses the following questions: (1) What are key risks faced by U.S. workers in accumulating and preserving pension benefits? (2) What approaches are used in other countries that could address these risks and what trade-offs do they present? (3) What approaches do key proposals for alternative plan designs in the U.S. suggest to mitigate risks faced by workers and what trade-offs do they entail? To complete this work, we reviewed research on defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and interviewed pension consulting firms, industry experts, academics, and other relevant organizations in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, we used a microsimulation model to assess the impact of certain strategies to increase pension coverage on accumulated benefits. The Department of Labor and Department of Treasury provided technical comments on this report

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