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Boettner Center for Pensions & Retirement Research

Olivia Mitchell

The Wharton School has announced the establishment of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research. The Boettner Center will support scholarly research, teaching, and outreach on global aging, successful retirement, and public and private pensions. The center also will disseminate research findings to international audiences of academics and policy-makers as well as support data development efforts at Penn. Dr. Olivia S. Mitchell, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor, has been appointed director of the center .

"This is an excellent opportunity for our faculty and students to study pension and retirement issues," said Dr. Patrick Harker, dean of the Wharton School. "The Boettner Center will foster the interdisciplinary work necessary for a full understanding of the issues. This will help in the development of sound and successful policies and programs for the future."

Focuses of the Center include:

Research on Global Aging-Affiliates of the Center will focus on challenges and opportunities associated with global aging and retirement. Researchers will evaluate means to strengthen global retirement income systems and ways to address economic and social problems in developing and developed countries.

Research on Successful Retirement-The Center will encourage research on saving behavior, how/why retirees invest well or poorly, and how they manage their resources during retirement. Projects may evaluate links between older peoples' psychological and physical conditions as these influence retirement patterns and well-being, as well as interactions between physical and mental health, and successful retirement. Affiliates concerned with retirement security and financial gerontology will develop models to predict and enhance financial security among the elderly.

Research on Retirement Income Security-The Center will support projects on public and private pensions, extending the work of the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School. Projects will include research on retirement plan guarantees, government social insurance programs including disability insurance, participant-directed pensions and the impact of administrative costs, investment options in retirement, and regulation and supervision of annuity markets in the context of retirement systems. Projects also will evaluate the optimal mix between public and private retirement income programs.

Support for Data Projects- The Center will facilitate access to research data critical to the investigation of retirement security in the U.S. and around the world.

"We are delighted that the Center has been established to carry out the Boettner family's commitment to retirement security," said Dr. Mitchell. "This funding will enable University faculty and students to launch new and important research on worldwide aging."

In 1997 Joseph and Ruth Boettner's estate provided a generous endowment to the University for a research center to conduct scholarly research on retirement security. The stewardship of these funds, currently totaling around $5 million, and the associated Center, will be guided by Dr. Mitchell as center director. The Boettner family sought to sponsor high-quality research, teaching, and information dissemination that advances knowledge about the links between economic security and physical, social, psychological, and environmental well-being in an aging world.

Dr. Mitchell has served as the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at the Wharton School since 1993. She recently served on the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security and she is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 19, January 28, 2003