Whatever Happened to Thrift? Why Americans Don't Save and What to Do about It Ronald T. Wilcox

Publication date:
23 Jun 2009
Yale University Press
176 pages: 235 x 156mm
9 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


Not saving is more than just a problem that affects individual Americans and their families—it’s a national problem

It is no secret that Americans save very little: every economic index confirms as much. But to solve the real mystery, we must ask the questions, “Why?” “What are the effects on our economy?” and “What can be done about it?”

In this thoroughly researched and thought-provoking book, Ronald T. Wilcox clearly describes not only how the “savings crisis” adversely influences personal lifestyles over the long term but also how it can undermine our national wealth and standard of living. Wilcox cogently explains that savings are essential to fuel our nation’s economic growth, whether it’s putting money in the bank or in the form of direct loans to the government as savings bonds, for example. And, he presents unambiguous facts showing that a high proportion of current wage earners simply will not have enough money for self-support during retirement—and that the government safety nets for income and health can no longer be counted on. Most important, Wilcox examines the many rational and irrational reasons behind individuals’ failures to put money away, what third parties such as corporations and government can do to help, and the steps people can take today to help themselves.

The book is an attempt to reinvent thrift in the United States, to find practical ways to help people consume less and save more now so that we can be a richer people in the future and a more prosperous nation. It is a must-read for every corporate executive, policy maker, and concerned citizen.

Ronald Wilcox is professor of business administration at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. His expertise is in the area of marketing financial services, marketing and public policy, marketing research, pricing and auctions. Wilcox joined the Darden faculty in 2001. He is formerly an assistant professor at the Carnegie Mellon Graduate School of Industrial Administration and an economist for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


?With vivid examples from everyday experience, Ronald Wilcox pulls together the best thinking from economics, finance, psychology, and policy analysis on how we can return our nation and ourselves to the path of saving.??J. Mark Iwry, Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution and Research Professor, Georgetown University

"Savings is the engine that powers people?s future. Unfortunately, Americans don?t do enough of it. This book captures the essence of the problem and quickly turns to the opportunity for individuals and business leaders to take steps that can make the future brighter for all of us."?Michael D. Fraizer, CEO, Genworth Financial

"Failure to prepare for retirement is directly related to overspending and low savings rates, says Ronald Wilcox. . . . He suggests the failure of profligate North American Baby Boomers to save means they will eventually pressure governments to introduce 'measures that transfer wealth from the people who have saved responsibly to those who have not.'"?Jonathan Chevreau, Financial Post

"A surprisingly witty guide to a gloomy subject: the complete inability of the world's richest nation to save."?Pat Regnier, Money Magazine

"Mr. Wilcox has an enviably lively prose style and an admirable commitment to brevity. . . . Much of what he says is both correct and valuable. A conscientious reader could easily secure a comfortable retirement by taking his advice to heart."?Steven E. Landsburg, Wall Street Journal

"Wilcox draws insights from economics and psychology to tackle this challenge [of saving for retirement] in his slim but sensible volume. . . . His policy prescriptions are comprehensive, insightful, and well argued."?Publishers Weekly

"There is much in Whatever Happened to Thrift? worth thinking about-interesting stuff, and sufficiently well written to be accessible to any reader."?Irwin M. Stelzer, Weekly Standard


A 2008 Top Seller in Business-Economics as compiled by YBP Library Services