Karen Holden is Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs and Consumer Science. She is a Research Associate of the Institute for Research on Poverty and a Faculty Affiliate and Steering Committee member at the Center for the Health and Demography of Aging, and the Center for Demography and Ecology. She was Associate Director of La Follette in 1995-98 and 2005-07. Her research focuses on the effects of Social Security and pension policy on economic status after retirement and widowhood. Previous work has examined issues in the areas of disability, welfare reform, mandatory retirement policies, and risk of nursing home care. In 1986-87 she was a visiting economist at the Social Security Administration's Office of Research and Statistics.
Professor Holden's projects include an examination of the adequacy of retirement savings and correlates of changes in adequacy over time; happiness and financial well-being; evaluation of financial literacy programs; and development of financial education programs for young children. She served on the National Academy of Social Insurance Task Force that examined payout issues should there be individual Social Security accounts. The report, "Uncharted Waters: Paying Benefits from Individual Accounts in Federal Retirement Policy," is informs the policy debate on Social Security reform. She received her B.A. degree in economics from Barnard College and her doctorate in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.