For Immediate Release | June 13, 2022
William Arnone, 202-452-8097
A new report on Economic Security for the 21st Century (Economic Security) from the nonpartisan National Academy of Social Insurance (Academy) provides policymakers with a broad range of policy options to improve economic security for all. The report follows deliberations of the Academy’s Economic Security Study Panel.
As the nation responds to new challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the scope of economic insecurity, and disparities in that insecurity—across states, in rural versus urban regions, and across racial, ethnic, and gender lines—have become starkly evident, prompting policymakers, advocates, and communities to seek evidence-based solutions to strengthen the economic security of individuals and families.
Our social insurance infrastructure–Social Security retirement benefits, Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security disability benefits–is key to that effort. However, these programs as currently implemented do not adequately protect against the risks that they were designed to cover and require updating to bring them in line with our 21st-century economy, labor force, and demographics.
Economic Security identifies 100 policy options to achieve this modernization, organized into four interacting policy pillars. Each pillar – Labor, Benefit, Protection, and Equity – contributes critical aspects of support, but substantially boosting economic security requires drawing on all four.
Economic Security reflects input from a range of stakeholder groups—namely, beneficiaries of these programs and organizers, and representatives of marginalized groups—and two years of deliberations by the 30 social insurance experts of the Study Panel. “Making informed policy choices that actually meet existing needs requires engaging with the communities that will be most affected by the proposed policy. The Study Panel is grateful for the collaboration with stakeholder representatives from groups that have been excluded from policymaking conversations for too long,” noted the report’s principal investigator, Kathryn Edwards. (A list of the stakeholder representatives and members of the Study Panel can be found within the ‘About’ section of the report.)
Edwards’ sentiment was echoed by Tammy Seltzer, Director of the DC Jail and Prison Advocacy Project at Disability Rights DC, who served as a stakeholder representative. “With modern technology and the exponential growth in self-advocacy, identifying and communicating with one another has never been easier. That means researchers and policymakers no longer have any excuse to propose policy without the input of affected communities. Only those with lived experience know what sorts of supports will make the largest difference in their lives.”
Convened in 2019 and before the pandemic would radically shock the global economy, the Panel’s timing parallels that of another committee convened to tackle the widespread economic insecurity exposed and exacerbated by the Great Depression nearly a century ago. The 1934 Committee on Economic Security produced a report that functioned as a keystone of the New Deal, identifying a new economic framework following the shift from an agrarian economy to a manufacturing economy.
Developed in the context of the most politically polarized atmosphere in many decades, the report also showcases ideologically diverse experts acting in concert to tackle complex and controversial issues. Study Panel co-chair and Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors Renée M. Landers said that “engaging on this Study Panel with a group of experts firmly committed to understanding the nature of modern economic security and to identifying policy options that have the potential to make a huge difference to U.S. households was a tremendous honor and learning experience.” Co-chair Jason Fichtner added “working with colleagues placed widely across the ideological spectrum was not without its challenges. At the end of the day, however, we have a final report that provides policymakers of both parties options to improve economic security, and we have a report that we are all proud to sign.”
The full report, along with additional resources, can be viewed on the Academy’s website.
Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,200 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance will meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit www.nasi.org, or follow @socialinsurance on Twitter.