Director, Retirement Security Program

Phone: 510-642-6371

Program Area

Retirement Security

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About Nari

Nari Rhee, Ph.D., is director of the Retirement Security Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Her current research focuses on the retirement crisis facing California and the U.S. in the context of declining pension coverage, and policies to improve the retirement income prospects of low- and middle-wage workers. Before returning to the Labor Center in November 2014, she served for two years as manager of research at the National Institute on Retirement Security. She formerly held appointments as a postdoctoral scholar, visiting scholar, and associate academic specialist at the Labor Center. Dr. Rhee has written on a wide range of issues related to pensions and retirement security, including public pension reform, international pension systems, and retirement plan design. Her analysis of the retirement savings crisis and its racial dimensions has received broad media coverage and informed policy debates at the state and national levels.

Dr. Rhee’s previous work engaged a range of issues related to the economic security of low-wage workers, including care work, income inequality, housing affordability, uneven regional development, and labor-community coalition building. She earned a Ph.D. in geography from UC Berkeley in 2007, a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA in 1998, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 1996.

    Nari Rhee

    Public Pensions Support Race, Class, and Gender Equity in California

    This report finds that public pensions play an outsized role in the retirement security of every major demographic group in California, with the strongest impact on women and people of color. It is also a powerful tool for reducing wealth inequality. As private pension coverage declines, public pensions remain a critical bulwark of middle-class retirement security alongside Social Security, particularly for marginalized communities who have been historically shut out of other wealth-building opportunities.

    Nari Rhee

    Closing the Gap: The Role of Public Pensions in Reducing Retirement Inequality

    This study analyzes the impact of defined benefit pensions, especially public pensions, on retirement income security and wealth distribution by race, gender, and educational attainment in the U.S. It serves as a companion report to Closing the Gap fact sheets, which are designed to inform the public about the social equity impact of pensions in each state and the District of Columbia.

    Nari Rhee

    Marin Public Pension Series – Brief #3: How public pensions support race and gender equity

    This brief analyzes the impact of public sector employment and defined-benefit pensions on race and gender equity in retirement income security in Marin County and California. Public pensions play an outsized role in the retirement security of every racial group, particularly in Black and Latino communities, and pension income provides a critical buffer against economic hardship in old age for all groups, especially women, Black and Latino Californians, and seniors without college degrees.

    Nari Rhee

    Understanding Public Pensions in Sonoma County

    This brief examines pension benefits for public servants in Sonoma County in terms of their role in employee compensation, the evolving financial status of pension systems, the impact of pension reform on costs, and how different pension systems in the county and surrounding Bay Area region stack up against each other in terms of protection from inflation during retirement.