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Economics Alumnus Wins TIAA-CREF’s Samuelson Award

Sylvester Schieber

Sylvester Schieber, who received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Notre Dame in 1974, was recently recognized by TIAA-CREF for his work on the history of the U.S. retirement system and the ways in which it could be improved.

Schieber won the 17th annual TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security for his book The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System. The book, which was one of CHOICE magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012, provides a comprehensive overview of the history and theory of retirement in America.

“The uncertainty of the U.S. retirement system should be a concern for all workers and employers,” Schieber says. “We all play a role in shaping the future of retirement, and I am honored to be recognized.

“What is lacking is not plenty of suggestions on how to reform America’s retirement system but rather the political will to do so,” he says. “I hope this book helps bring us one step closer to building that political will.”

Expertise and Passion

“No one knows this area—in particular employer pensions—better than Syl Schieber,” says Joseph Quinn, a faculty member at Boston College and a Samuelson Award judge. “His expertise and passion for these issues is apparent throughout his book, which is a must-read.”

Adds Stephanie Bell-Rose, head of the TIAA-CREF Institute, “Schieber’s work is exemplary in that it offers clear and actionable steps for how we can reform the retirement system to help guide Americans to lifelong financial well-being. It is more important than ever that the research community address the retirement issue and provide tangible solutions.”

The Samuelson Award is presented annually in recognition of an outstanding research publication containing ideas that the public and private sectors can use to maintain and improve financial well-being. The award is named after Nobel Prize winner Paul A. Samuelson in honor of his achievements in the field of economics as well as for his service as a CREF trustee.

Career-Long Dedication

A former chairman of the U.S. Social Security Advisory Board, Schieber has written and edited books on retirement security, changing demographics, and health issues, as well as numerous policy papers and journal articles. He is currently a private consultant on retirement and health issues and frequently speaks before business groups and congressional committees.

“In selecting Dr. Schieber’s book, the Samuelson Award selection committee continues its tradition of honoring careful, unbiased scholarship on retirement savings and eschewing advocacy on behalf of any special interest group,” says Richard Jensen, Gilbert F. Schaefer Professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Economics in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.

“It is gratifying to see Schieber’s career-long dedication to research on this topic so rewarded and to see that his training in mainstream economics here at Notre Dame has served him well.”

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