Robert Hiltonsmith on Fresh Air: The Tricky Business Of Retirement

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Listen to him on NPR or read the full Demos report, The Retirement Savings Drain: Hidden & Excessive Costs of 401(k)s.

A couple generations ago, when older Americans retired they could rely on pension plans to support them. Then, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, many companies switched their retirement plans over to 401(k) accounts. The security of workers' retirement savings suddenly became subject to the vagaries of the stock market.

What's more, the financial institutions that manage 401(k)s charge a host of hidden fees to plan participants, says Robert Hiltonsmith, a policy analyst at the New York-based think tank Demos. He researches retirement security, tax policy, health care and the labor market.