"Disadvantages of the Less Educated: Education and Contributory Pensions at Work"
About the Talk:
Education is a central feature of economic stratification in contemporary societies. While a large literature has documented links between education and economic outcomes, few studies have focused on education-based stratification processes in the accumulation of retirement resources during working years. In this talk, I will discuss how the changing landscape of workplace pensions marked by shift from “traditional” defined-benefit (DB) plans to voluntary, defined-contribution (DC) plans (e.g. 401K) has altered the pathways through which education can influence the accumulation of retirement resources. I will summarize results of a current project with collaborator Dr. ChangHwan Kim (Univ. of Kansas) that uses survey-linked tax data (Survey of Income and Program Participation linked to confidential W-2 records), as well as data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, to examine how participation in and contributions to DC retirement plans differ by education. The analysis identifies two central pathways that facilitate educational disparities in pension savings. The first channel relates to the sorting of individuals into different structural positions in labor market based on education. The second involves the increasing importance of non-labor market mechanisms (e.g., time preference, financial knowledge). Together, the results help clarify the role of education in shaping economic stratification and long-term financial security via retirement wealth formation during working years.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Christopher R. Tamborini is a senior researcher in the Office of Retirement Policy at the U.S. Social Security Administration. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (2006-present), and has a research affiliation with the Institute for Policy & Social Research at the University of Kansas. Dr. Tamborini received his PhD in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. His research interests crosscut areas that include aging and the life course, social policy, stratification, labor market, family, health, and methods. Dr. Tamborini has worked on numerous projects using survey data linked to SSA’s administrative records. Recent publications include articles in Demography, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Sociology of Education, Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Forces, and Sociological Methods and Research.