While America Aged

While America Aged (2008) by Roger Lowenstein is a fascinating study of the disastrous nature of American pensions. The fiasco of many companies pension schemes and of the incredible story of local government pensions makes for a very interesting tale of the enormous problems facing the US as the population ages and people have longer retirements.

The book goes over the history of GM’s pension plans and those of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and of the pensions of the city of San Diego. All are incredible. All feature Unions getting more and more for their members while management make bigger and bigger promises while reducing contributions to maintain the funding base for those schemes.

Pensions and the aging population are a huge problem for all developed countries. The book looks at how these issues have crippled US companies and threaten many US government jurisdictions. The book looks in detail at the cases it studies. It does not, unfortunately, provide an overview of the enormous problem the US faces with its aging population. It’s still worth reading for anyone interested in these issues but it doesn’t live up to the title.

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