The TIAA-CREF Institute announced the winners of the twelfth annual TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security in January 2008. The 2007 award was given to: John Karl Scholz, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Ananth Seshadri, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin – Madison; and Surachai Khitatrakun, Research Associate, Urban Institute. They were recognized for their research entitled, “Are Americans Saving ‘Optimally’ for Retirement?” published in the Journal of Political Economy, August 2006.
These authors conducted a data intensive study to better understand how well U.S. households are preparing for retirement. Using an innovative technique that combines sophisticated life-cycle modeling simulations with household income level data, the authors found that fewer than 20 percent of households born between 1931 and 1941 have less wealth than the simulation predicted for their “optimal” retirement target. Even for under-saving households, the wealth deficit is generally small.
The research offers at least two important contributions: First, the innovative methodology provides a substantially improved technique for predicting how household wealth is related to lifetime income. Second, the results indicate most households plan reasonably and in a rational way for retirement.
Certificate of Excellence
In addition, a TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award Certificate of Excellence was presented to Esther Duflo, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT; William Gale, Vice President and Director of Economic Studies at The Brookings Institution; Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University; Peter Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office; and Emmanuel Saez, Professor of Economics at the University of California – Berkeley. They were recognized for their paper entitled, “Savings Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H & R Block,” published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 2006.
2007 Panel of Distinguished Judges
All of the judges are TIAA-CREF Institute Fellows.
- Leora Friedberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics, University of Virginia
- Erik Hurst, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business
- Joseph P. Newhouse, Ph.D., John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management; Chair, Committee on Higher Degrees in Health Policy, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy; Harvard University
- Andrew A. Samwick, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, Dartmouth College
- Jack L. VanDerhei, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Risk Management & Insurance, Temple University