Kathryn Edwards is an Associate Economist at the RAND Corporation. She is a member of the . After working as a research assistant at the Economic Policy Institute from 2008-2011, Ms. Edwards attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received her Ph.D. in Economics. Along the way, Edwards was a graduate fellow of the Institute for Research on Poverty and a summer fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
As the Academy gears up for our 31st annual policy conference, Regenerating Social Insurance for Millennials and the Millennium, I am thinking back to what we have learned from our last few conferences.
Our 2016 conference premiered the Academy’s focus on inequality. Keynote speaker Marc Pearson, Deputy Director of Employment, Labor and Social Affairs at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reminded us that:
In "Autopsy of a Retirement Plan," AAUP Academe (May-June 2018), social policy analyst James W. Russell demonstrates why his defined contribution retirement plan despite having high rates of contributions and investment earnings still failed to produce adequate retirement income.
On Tuesday, November 7, the Academy hosted an educational forum for 30 members of a delegation of government officials from the Guangdong Province of China. The officials, representing various departments within the provincial government, were participants of Georgetown University’s Global Education Institute, which provides an executive program for Chinese provincial civil servants. Academy members and staff provided an overview of four key areas of the American system of social insurance.
As states work on the development of new paid family and medical leave systems, they face critical design choices with respect to system architecture, funding, and administration. With regard to system architecture, the main choices are between a social insurance approach and an employer mandate, although there are gradations between the two. In a social insurance approach, risk and resources are pooled broadly across virtually all workers in a state. In an employer mandate system, employers are required to offer insurance to their workers but can either self-insure, purchase insurance from a private carrier, or participate in a state fund, if one exists in their state.
Having recently completed my first year as the Academy’s Chief Executive Officer, I’ve reflected on my many interactions with Academy Members at our annual Membership meeting, Policy Conference, 30th Anniversary celebration, and other events that we have sponsored, as well as emails and phone conversations.
Among the questions most frequently posed to me are:
- Why has the Academy chosen “inequality” as our overarching strategic theme and framework?
- What does this mean for the Academy’s policy work?
I first addressed this issue in a letter to the New York Times published in February 2015.
During the 2016 campaign, President Trump promised not to cut Social Security. Yet the White House’s FY 2018 Budget proposes up to $64 billion in cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) expenditures. The cuts stem mostly from measures to “test new program rules and processes and require mandatory participation by program applicants and beneficiaries,” with the objective of moving disabled beneficiaries from the SSDI program into fuller labor market participation.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us recall the contributions to our nation’s vibrant social insurance infrastructure by those women who are no longer with us, but whose legacies remain strong.
Among these often unsung heroines are: