March 14th, 2005


Social Security woes: can we learn by example?

Nearly 20 years ago, Britain adopted a form of personal investment accounts much like the one Bush proposes. Britain also changed the way it calculates retirement benefits to adjust for inflation, keying them to consumer prices rather than wages, as Bush and lawmakers are considering for Social Security.

The result: "We have created the most complicated pension system in the world," said Adair Turner, a Merrill Lynch vice president and chairman of the United Kingdom Pension Commission.

Moreover, Turner said, contrary to the benefits promised when the British changed their system, their new approach isn't increasing national savings and isn't fostering an ownership society. And, he said, workers are retiring with less savings than they did before.

As a result, Turner is looking at revising Britain's system again to make it more like the traditional U.S. Social Security system that Bush proposes to change.

Read the rest here: