Interesting policy debates are starting to take place against the backdrop of the newly emerging retirement crunch. These debates are going to be largely grounded in fundamental ideological differences about the proper role of government. New research utilizes recent retirement polling data in an attempt to forecast the public support of retirement policy and pays particular attention to these differences.
Policy research and public polling consistently suggest a fairly marked split among the public regarding government policy. One the one hand, a large contingent of people believe the government exists to service the needs and interests of citizens; while others believe in a more limited form of self-reliance where families or individuals support themselves. This division colors the long history of public policy debate in this country. With retirement security becoming an increasingly troublesome question, the ongoing debates and the resulting policies are widely thought to be largely shaped by both of these mindsets.
Interestingly, the analysis reported here suggests that this split may have its limits. Using data from Hart Research Associates 2006 poll on retirement security, the researchers found indeed that support for government mandated retirement pensions reduced sharply the more self-reliant the participant was. Additionally, those who conceptualize government as an institution responsible for the needs of citizens were more likely to support such a policy. However, at the same time, the poll shows that as retirement security becomes more uncertain, support for government programs tend to increase.
Since 2006, the financial position of the individual citizen has dramatically grown worse and retirement security is more uncertain. However, the question remains as to whether support for government retirement reforms will increase or diminish. That level of support will likely determine the shape of retirement into the coming future.
Madland, D. 2010. Reforming retirement: Values and Self-Interest Drive Support for Policy Reform in Opposite Directions. Journal of Aging and Social Policy 22(2): 207-221.