25-26 October 2006 Boston, Massachusetts
We live in a time of great changes in the way Americans save, invest, and manage the risks to their standard of living. Baby boomers are the most prosperous, healthiest, and longest-lived generation of Americans ever. They also face more choices about saving and investing than their predecessors. More choices mean more decisions. Voluntary tax-advantaged accounts are now available for retirement, college tuition, and health care. It seems everyone is talking about personal finance. Should you open an IRA or 401(k) account? An ordinary IRA or a Roth IRA? How much to contribute? How to invest the funds? How to time withdrawals from the account?
Economists have been studying consumers' optimal saving and investing decisions for many decades. Since the 1950s there has been enormous progress in the underlying theory, and since the 1970s major innovations in the financial markets and advances in technology have facilitated implementation of that theory. Furthermore, in the past two decades, research in behavioral economics and finance has considerably advanced our understanding of how consumers actually make saving and investment decisions. Life-cycle saving and investing have become a science, or at least the foundations have been laid for such a science.
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