Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.
Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.
Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.
Principal Deputy Commissioner, 2007; Deputy Commissioner for Policy, 2006-2007; Associate Commissioner for Retirement Policy, 2003-2006, Social Security Administration
Associate Director, National Economic Council, White House, 2005
Social Security Analyst, Cato Institute, 1999-2003
Staff Member, President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, 2001
Director of Research, Congressional Institute, 1998-99
Ph.D., government, London School of Economics
M.Sc., financial economics, University of London
M.Phil., social and political theory, Cambridge University
There is a widespread perception that most Americans are inadequately prepared for retirement. The story pushed by pundits and policy makers is that the shift over the past 30 years from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution savings plans such as 401(k)s has dramatically reduced retirement income to supplement the benefits provided by Social Security.
In cities and states around the country, elected officials, public employees and taxpayers are concerned about the funding of public sector pensions, which are placing increasing pressure on government budgets.
There is a popular aphorism that “when you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to stop digging.” With respect to public employee pensions, a growing number of policymakers are contemplating following that advice.
State and local government pensions tout their ability to couple generous, guaranteed benefits for public employees with low and stable contributions from taxpayers. In reality, the risks that public pensions pose to taxpayers and government budgets have multiplied by a factor of 10 over the past four decades.