PBS Frontline has an excellent program “The Retirement Gamble” about how complicated financial instruments are used to confuse and take advantage of people who are trying to save for their retirement through 401(k)’s. It is also just another example of where the limitations of our brains to process information allows corporations to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
The episode features interviews with Teresa Ghilarducci, a former faculty member in Notre Dame’s department of economics. She is now at the New School, and I enjoyed reading her bio and remembered what kind of economist Notre Dame used to attract:
Economist Teresa Ghilarducci sees The New School as “an enterprise to design systems that help people live and work better in society.” In her recent book When I’m Sixty-Four: The Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them, Ghilarducci discusses developing systems to guarantee all working people a dignified and secure retirement. Perhaps because she grew up in a low-income family, Ghilarducci developed a desire to improve society through economic and social policy. As a 21-year-old, she consulted with unionized workers at Stanford University about their benefits and helped them choose pension plans. This experience started her on the path to a career in labor economics, which has now spanned more than two decades and a variety of roles in different organizations.