Nobel laureate to discuss Americans’ retirement savings at March 8 Rice U. lecture

In the United States, people are living longer, birthrates have fallen and are not likely to increase and retirees make up an increasing proportion of the population. Nobel laureate William Sharpe will discuss whether Americans are saving enough for retirement in a March 8 lecture presented by the Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics and the Office of the President. The lecture will take place at 5 p.m. in Alice Pratt Brown’s Stude Concert Hall and will be followed immediately by a reception in Baker Hall’s Doré Commons.

William Sharpe (Photo credit: Stanford University)

William Sharpe (Photo credit: Stanford University)

In his talk, “Financing Retirement: Social Security, Public Pensions and Defined Contribution Plans,” Sharpe will consider three major pillars for the provision of retirement income: the federal Social Security program, pensions provided for state and local government employees and 401(k) and other voluntary defined-contribution retirement savings plans for nongovernmental employees.

“Comparisons of the values of the assets saved with the amounts that could provide expected future incomes are a serious cause for concern,” he said.

The recipient of the 1990 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Sharpe was one of the originators of the capital asset pricing model. In addition, he developed the Sharpe ratio for investment performance analysis, the binomial method for the valuation of options, the gradient method for asset allocation optimization and returns-based style analysis for evaluating the style and performance of investment funds.

Sharpe is the STANCO 25 Professor Emeritus of Finance at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1970 after teaching at the University of Washington and the University of California at Irvine. He has published articles in a number of professional journals, including Management Science, The Journal of Business, The Journal of Finance, The Journal of Financial Economics, The Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, The Journal of Portfolio Management and The Financial Analysts’ Journal. He is the author of seven books and is a past president of the American Finance Association.

A graduate of UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Ph.D. in economics, he has honorary degrees from DePaul University, the University of Alicante, the University of Vienna and the London Business School. He is also the recipient of the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor.

Antonio Merlo, dean of the School of Social Sciences, said this highly anticipated event features the sixth Nobel laureate in economic sciences to visit Rice since 2015 and is made possible by a gift from Rice alum Doyle Arnold ’70.

Admission to the lecture and reception is free; however, because space is limited, RSVPs are requested. RSVP by visiting Paid parking will be available in the Central Campus Garage. For more information about parking, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.