The Predictable Surprise
The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System
Sylvester J. Schieber
Reviews and Awards
Finalist for the 2012 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award For Outstanding Scholarly Writing On Lifelong Financial Security
Selected one of CHOICE's "Top 25 Books of 2012"
Selected one of CHOICE's "Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012"
"Schieber probably knows more about American retirement programs than anyone. He has advised the Social Security system, consulted with private firms and written widely on the subject. His book shows how today's 'entitlement' psychology dates to Social Security's muddled beginnings."--Robert Samuelson, Washington Post
"The topic is very timely as the entire retirement system in the US is under pressure with firms and governments facing financial problems...The author is a well known expert in the field of retirement income and has written widely on these topics. He reaches out to the reader by presenting real stories that illustrate important points. Schieber relies on his background as an executive of a benefit consulting firm, his work with the government on Social Security, and his expertise as an economist. Blending these career experiences, he is able to consider the American retirement system from a variety of perspectives..."--Robert Clark, Professor of Economics and Business Management, North Carolina State University
"Schieber cuts through the thicket of rhetoric and specialized knowledge to reveal the interplay of demographics, economic conditions, politics, and government regulations that have led to this current crisis. It's hard not to share Schieber's respect for the architects of Social Security and what they accomplished during difficult times, and his regret that the current political climate doesn't encourage thoughtful discussion of needed reforms. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to engage in that discussion." --Publishers Weekly
"The discussion necessarily gets deep into the weeds--analysts and policymakers will welcome the thoroughness--but general readers will appreciate Schieber's efforts to warm the material with quotations from Sophocles, Confucius, Dickens, Churchill, Lewis Carroll and even Mae West, and to demystify the arcana with a plethora of table, charts and graphs, and a useful glossary . . . Precisely the sort of levelheaded, serious discussion our political leaders appear so unwilling to conduct."--Kirkus Reviews
"The American people will only take the painful steps necessary to restore fiscal order, particularly with respect to Social Security and Medicare, when they understand the roots of the problem. Syl Schieber's The Predictable Surprise explains the demise of the retirement system with great clarity, emphasizes the importance of demographics in forcing the need for change, and provides the background knowledge necessary to sensibly consider the way forward. I not only suggest reading this book, but hope you will encourage members of Congress to do the same."--George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Labor, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of State
"Syl Schieber's The Predictable Surprise is must-reading for scholars and students, policymakers and concerned citizens interested in retirement and retirement income issues. Schieber, an impressive researcher with sterling private-sector and policy experience, blends history, theory and data into a compelling, comprehensive analysis that confronts the difficult impending reality and points the way forward. So avoid an unpleasant surprise; read The Predictable Surprise."--Michael J. Boskin, Tully M. Friedman Professor of Economics and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Stanford University, former Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers
"There are at least three reasons why Syl Schieber's work may be unique in the retirement security field. First, he is equally an expert about Social Security and about private-sector pensions. Second, he has a rare command of how the history of each system has led to its present condition. And third, he is an exceptionally creative analyst, going wherever the evidence leads and unconstrained by ideology. The Predictable Surprise may be the best book yet written for those who want to understand each of Social Security, private pensions, state pensions and the interrelationship between them. One hopes that it will be widely read by key decisionmakers at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue."--Charles Blahous, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason Univeristy, former Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
"The Predictable Surprise is the most comprehensive review of our retirement system that I have ever read. Syl Schieber artfully blends detailed analyses of individual policy decisions with commentary on the macro retirement environment. If you want to truly understand the roots of our current retirement challenges, you must read The Predictable Surprise."--John J. Haley, CEO, Towers Watson
"Those who hope to tackle one of the biggest public policy issues of the next decade should imbibe Sylvester Schieber's The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System." --World