Achieving American Retirement Prosperity by Changing Americans' Thinking About Retirement

22(2) Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance 189-259 (2017)

71 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2016 Last revised: 26 Jan 2018

Peter H. Huang

University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: November 11, 2016


There are many decisions that Americans have to make about retirement before, at, and after retirement. For example, Americans have to decide when to start saving for retirement, how much to save, how to invest those savings, when to retire, when to claim social security, and how to take required minimum distributions from 401(k) plans or Individual Retirement Accounts. Different things can go wrong at each of these decisions for different reasons. Many Americans, for various reasons, including insufficient energy, money, motivation, time, and understanding, do no retirement planning. Some Americans do some retirement planning, yet worry they are doing insufficient or ineffective retirement planning. A few knowledgeable or wealthy Americans do, or have done for them, sufficient and effective retirement planning. Insufficient or ineffective retirement planning causes Americans to experience decreased financial wealth, health, objective living standards, and subjective well-being in addition to suffer increased anxiety, depression, stress, and worry. Our American economy also has to deal with the resulting negative externalities of many Americans retiring into poverty. This Article analyzes how Americans can achieve retirement prosperity by changing their thinking about retirement. This Article advocates the American federal government educate Americans in thinking about retirement to utilize more thinking tools, think more mindfully, and think more societally. This Article’s proposals are based on and introduce to retirement planning the field of cognitive economics.

Keywords: Retirement, Thinking Tools, Thinking Architecture, Thinking Technology, Cognitive Economics

JEL Classification: A12, D03, D14, D91, G02, G11, G18, H55, J14, K22

Suggested Citation

Huang, Peter H., Achieving American Retirement Prosperity by Changing Americans' Thinking About Retirement (November 11, 2016). 22(2) Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance 189-259 (2017). Available at SSRN: or

Peter H. Huang (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

Colorado Law
401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303 492-4563 (Phone)
303-492-1200 (Fax)


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