Colleges and universities across the country face huge challenges as their faculties age, their budgets stagnate, and mandatory retirement becomes a thing of the past. In To Retire or Not? the nation's foremost authorities on retirement policy and practice provide a critical assessment of academic labor markets and retirement patterns, explaining how to adjust pension and other incentive programs to ensure proper replenishment of intellectual and human capital. Case studies vividly illustrate how to predict the need for special retirement programs, how to structure voluntary early-out benefit plans, and how age-based retirement incentives work in practice. Recent legal decisions are assessed and critiqued.
A recent amendment to the U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act ended mandatory retirement for tenured faculty at colleges and universities across the country. This law let individual faculty members enjoy an economic benefit enjoyed by almost all other American workers: they could choose to continue working past age 70 or "sell" the benefit back to their universities in exchange for earlier retirement. At the same time, however, educational administrators were faced with a faculty bulge created by the expansion of the professorate in the 1960s and early '70s, and the so-called "surplus army" of Ph.D.s of the 1980s. Colleges and universities everywhere are now faced with the higher costs of retaining senior professors instead of hiring entry-level replacements at lower salaries.
Robert L. Clark is Professor of Economics and Business at North Carolina State University.
P. Brett Hammond is Director of Corporate Projects at the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF).