The best books on pensions

1 authors have picked their favorite books about pensions and why they recommend each book.

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Retirement Heist

By Ellen E. Schultz,

Book cover of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers

Retirement Heist is a tour de force. It is a book to make you informed and angry about why pension plans are disappearing in the private sector. In a few words, according to former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Schultz, it was because corporations took financially healthy pension plans and diverted their surpluses to other uses to inflate their bottom lines. They then ended the plans when they inevitably became financially weaker, substituting them for 401(k)s that do not produce near as much retirement security. 

Retirement Heist

By Ellen E. Schultz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Retirement Heist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2012 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism

Hundreds of companies have slashed pensions and health coverage for millions of retirees, claiming that a “perfect storm” of stock market losses, aging workers, and spiraling costs have forced them to take drastic measures.

But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, an award-winning investigative reporter formerly of The Wall Street Journal, reveals how large employers and the retirement industry have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.

A little over a decade ago, pension plans…


Who am I?

I became fascinated with retirement plans and policy when I realized that my 401(k)-like retirement plan with a high rate of savings and investment returns would still come up way short in terms of the retirement income needed for me and my family. That led me to initiate a winning campaign to allow those of us in that plan to switch to our employer’s pension plan. In leading that struggle, I had to learn everything possible, beyond what I already knew, about retirement plans. I have a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and have studied retirement plans in Latin America and Europe as well as the United States.


I wrote...

The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

By James W. Russell,

Book cover of The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

What is my book about?

What do workers need to know as they assess the security of their retirement plans? What should union activists keep in mind as they push for the national and workplace reforms needed to produce greater retirement security? This nuts-and-bolts book provides a much-needed demystification of the retirement system and enables workers to take charge of their own personal futures.

The People's Pension

By Eric Laursen,

Book cover of The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan

At first, the sheer size of this book—over eight hundred pages—intimidated me. But then as I got into it, I realized that it was well worth the time. This is the definitive account of the political struggle between the defenders and enemies of Social Security since the Reagan years. The defenders want to expand the program. Its enemies ultimately want to privatize it to benefit Wall Street or, at the least, reduce its benefits so that people have no other recourse than saving through 401(k)s. I like it because Laursen both understood what was at stake and was able to insightfully document what happened.

The People's Pension

By Eric Laursen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The People's Pension as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Readers mystified by the yawning gulf between public opinion and current political discussion might benefit from the background provided in Eric Laursen’s magisterial history, 'The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan' The book offers more than 800 pages of fascinating if gory details about the lobbying efforts and misinformation campaigns aimed at bringing the program down."—Nancy Folbre, NYTimes Economix Blog

“Laursen has given us a comprehensive account of the three decade long war against Social Security. . . . This is a fascinating history that progressives must learn, not only to protect Social Security but also…


Who am I?

I became fascinated with retirement plans and policy when I realized that my 401(k)-like retirement plan with a high rate of savings and investment returns would still come up way short in terms of the retirement income needed for me and my family. That led me to initiate a winning campaign to allow those of us in that plan to switch to our employer’s pension plan. In leading that struggle, I had to learn everything possible, beyond what I already knew, about retirement plans. I have a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and have studied retirement plans in Latin America and Europe as well as the United States.


I wrote...

The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

By James W. Russell,

Book cover of The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

What is my book about?

What do workers need to know as they assess the security of their retirement plans? What should union activists keep in mind as they push for the national and workplace reforms needed to produce greater retirement security? This nuts-and-bolts book provides a much-needed demystification of the retirement system and enables workers to take charge of their own personal futures.

Social Security Works!

By Nancy Altman, Eric Kingson,

Book cover of Social Security Works!: Why Social Security Isn't Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All

This is the place to start since it treats the base of our national retirement system—our national pension. I don’t think there’s anybody who knows more about Social Security than Altman and Kingson. They are the founders of the advocacy organization by the same name, Social Security Works. It is their job, and they do it well, to explain why Social Security works as well as it does despite the claims of its right-wing enemies and what we have to do to protect it from attempts to privatize it or reduce its benefits. This is not just a manifesto, it contains a ton of clearly-written information about how Social Security as a social insurance system works and what can be done to make it better.

Social Security Works!

By Nancy Altman, Eric Kingson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Social Security Works! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A growing chorus of prominent voices in Congress and elsewhere are calling for the expansion of our Social Security system. Social Security Works! amplifies these voices and offers a powerful antidote to the three-decade long, billionaire- funded campaign to make us believe that this vital institution is destined to collapse. It isn't. From the Silent Generation to Baby Boomers, from Generation X to Millennials and Generation Z, everyone now has a stake in understanding the real story about Social Security. Destined to be a game-changer, setting a strategy to benefit all.


Who am I?

I became fascinated with retirement plans and policy when I realized that my 401(k)-like retirement plan with a high rate of savings and investment returns would still come up way short in terms of the retirement income needed for me and my family. That led me to initiate a winning campaign to allow those of us in that plan to switch to our employer’s pension plan. In leading that struggle, I had to learn everything possible, beyond what I already knew, about retirement plans. I have a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and have studied retirement plans in Latin America and Europe as well as the United States.


I wrote...

The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

By James W. Russell,

Book cover of The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

What is my book about?

What do workers need to know as they assess the security of their retirement plans? What should union activists keep in mind as they push for the national and workplace reforms needed to produce greater retirement security? This nuts-and-bolts book provides a much-needed demystification of the retirement system and enables workers to take charge of their own personal futures.

How to Fund the Life You Want

By Robin Powell, Jonathan Hollow,

Book cover of How to Fund the Life You Want: What everyone needs to know about savings, pensions and investments

At last a book that tells the truth about investment and how it works. The most important thing is keeping down charges. They eat away at your money every month and only enrich other people. Don’t let them manage your money – trust the markets. There are exercises and worksheets to do. So it is not a casual read. But if you study it and work through it you will end up better off and have enough money for your future. Which is the true meaning of wealth.

How to Fund the Life You Want

By Robin Powell, Jonathan Hollow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Fund the Life You Want as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An accessible and practical guide to personal finance that busts myths, clarifies jargons and clarifies the best options for building your wealth More and more people are reassessing their lives as a result of the pandemic. Many have left their jobs or reduced their hours. Others have resolved to work only as long as they must, retiring early to focus on families and friends, hobbies or travel. Meanwhile, employers all over the world are experimenting with a four-day week. Making the most of these choices requires having and growing enough money to enjoy your future life, without needing to worry…


Who am I?

I realised in my twenties that there were millions of people who desperately needed advice about their money but could not afford an accountant or an adviser. Since then my passion has been to simplify the deliberately complex financial world, explain the obscure and often unintelligible rules about tax, childcare, benefits, investment, savings, and borrowing. Recently as the tsunami of fraud has swept across the UK I have devoted more time to help people avoid losing money to scammers – both criminal and respectable. Most people can’t afford professional advice, but they can afford me – I’m freely available in print, on air, and online. 


I wrote...

Money Box: Your Toolkit for Balancing Your Budget, Growing Your Bank Balance and Living a Better Financial Life

By Paul Lewis,

Book cover of Money Box: Your Toolkit for Balancing Your Budget, Growing Your Bank Balance and Living a Better Financial Life

What is my book about?

From nought years old to 99Money Box shows you what you need to know as the years pass. How to get more money, how to stop wasting money, and how to use the money you have better. Help from the government. Using your skills to make money. Not paying for daft things. Making the money you have work for you not someone else. Pay less tax, beat the banks, and remember the finance industry is not your friend. 

It reveals the things that can leap up and bite you or stealthily drain your money away. And how to stop thieves in their tracks – with a weapon that is always with you. 

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