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A Positive Theory of Social Security

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  • Tabellini, Guido

Abstract

In many countries, social security accounts for a large fraction of the government budget. Why is this so, given that at any point in time the number of recipients of social security benefits is smaller than the number of contributors? In the overlapping-generations model studied in this paper, all individuals currently alive vote on social security in every period. In equilibrium, the size of social security is larger, the greater is the proportion of elderly people in the population, and the greater is the inequality of pre-tax income within each generation. Both predictions of the theory are supported by the empirical evidence in cross-country data. Copyright 2000 by The editors of the Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 102 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 523-45

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Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:102:y:2000:i:3:p:523-45

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  1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1988. "Social Contracts as Assets: A Possible Solution to the Time-Consistency Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 662-77, September.
  2. Loewy, Michael B., 1988. "Equilibrium policy in an overlapping generations economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 485-499.
  3. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  4. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  5. Michael J. Boskin & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Douglas J. Puffert & John B. Shoven, 1987. "Social Security: A Financial Appraisal Across and Within Generations," NBER Working Papers 1891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1978. "Intermediate Preferences and the Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 317-30, March.
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