Policy Research

B.C. Picked As Site For Social Security Center

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College will receive $5.25 million over five years from the Social Security Administration to run one of two university-based retirement policy research centers in the nation.

The centers at BC and the University of Michigan will research economic and retirement trends to help policy makers and the public make informed decisions on Social Security issues, Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel said in announcing the grants on Oct. 2.

Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences Alicia H. Munnell (CSOM), a former member of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, will direct the Retirement Research Center at Boston College.

Collaborators in the BC-based center will be the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Syracuse University, the Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Urban Institute.

"This is a very big grant," Munnell said. "The Social Security Administration has never done anything like this before and the fact that Boston College is a winner is a major tribute to the school."

Apfel said a strong research program is vital to the evolution of an already strained Social Security system that in coming decades must accommodate tens of millions of Americans born in the post-war "baby boom."
Drucker Prof. Alicia Munnell.

"By 2030, the number of Americans over age 65 will double," said Apfel. "In order for the Social Security Program to be prepared adequately to meet the needs of retired baby boomers, as well as future generations of Americans, we must know more about how retirees live, including economic, social, health and geographic patterns."

In addition to conducting research and evaluating retirement trends, the Retirement Research Consortium based at Boston College and Michigan will be responsible for conveying information to the public, policy makers and the media. Training and education programs will be launched to encourage promising young scholars to focus on retirement issues and to keep current practitioners abreast of recent research.

With the first $1.25 million installment of the five-year grant on the way, Munnell said, the new center at Boston College will begin hiring support staff, confer with Social Security administrators on priority research topics, and begin planning with Michigan counterparts for a conference in late spring.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Boston College," said Munnell. "Retirement issues clearly are at the top of the national agenda and BC will help form a research-policy nexus that will be very important to the national debate."

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