Income as the Outcome: How to Broaden the Narrow Framing of U.S. Retirement Policy


  • Jeffrey R. Brown

  • Financial Disclosures: The author is a Trustee for TIAA and has received compensation from several insurance companies, financial services companies, and trade organizations for delivering speeches and writing policy papers about retirement income security. The author received no compensation or funding for writing this article. All views represented in this article, as well as any errors, are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of any organization with which the author is, or has in the past been, affiliated.


This article provides a brief review of behavioral economics research on annuitization. It applies the lessons learned from this literature to examine how public policy toward defined contribution plans has narrowly framed the conversation about retirement in a manner that may discourage the provision of lifetime income. It then discusses a number of policy changes that could be made to reframe the conversation to focus on retirement income security rather than wealth accumulation.