1918 Andrew Carnegie Popularizes Pensions
Andrew Carnegie believed strongly that helping programs work best when beneficiaries make contributions to their own well-being, so starting in 1918 he provided millions of dollars to set up the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, and charged it with managing retirement funds put aside by professors themselves and their schools. During its first two decades, the fund was given free office space and had all of its administrative expenses paid by Carnegie. TIAA-CREF grew so large by 1937 that the foundation spun it off as an independent company.
Today, not only colleges but also many think tanks, community foundations, and other nonprofits rely on the company to manage their retirement plans. More broadly, Carnegie’s example helped make retirement saving a common expectation among millions of middle-class workers in professions of all sorts.
- Duke University case study, cspcs.sanford.duke.edu/sites/default/files/descriptive/tiaa-cref.pdf
- Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Private Power for the Public Good: A History of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Wesleyan, 1988)