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A primer on social security systems and reforms

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  • Craig P. Aubuchon
  • Juan Carlos Conesa
  • Carlos Garriga

Abstract

This article reviews the characteristics of different social security systems. Many configurations arise depending on the nature of a system’s funding and determination of benefits. Many reforms propose changing the U.S. Social Security system. The authors focus their analysis of the transition from a pay-as-you-go to a fully funded system. They argue that the key component of any reform is the treatment of the implicit liabilities of a country’s social security system. The welfare gains accruing to some cohorts as a result of such reforms usually stem from either a partial or complete default on the implicit debt of the system, and in that sense the gains imply only a redistribution of welfare across agents. In contrast, the elimination of existing distortions in social security financing can generate efficiency gains, allowing for welfare improvements for all agents. This result shifts the focus from the nature of the system itself and centers the debate on the distortions associated with social security financing.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2011)
Issue (Month): Jan ()
Pages: 19-35

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2011:i:jan:p:19-35:n:v.93no.1

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Keywords: Social security;

References

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  1. Rowena A. Pecchenino & Patricia S. Pollard, 1998. "Reforming Social Security: a welfare analysis," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 19-30.
  2. Juan C. Conesa & Carlos Garriga, 2008. "Optimal Fiscal Policy In The Design Of Social Security Reforms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 291-318, 02.
  3. Juan Carlos Conesa & Carlos Garriga, 2007. "Optimal response to a transitory demographic shock in Social Security financing," Working Papers 2007-041, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  4. Richard Disney & Carl Emmerson & Sarah Smith, 2003. "Pension Reform and Economic Performance in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s," NBER Working Papers 9556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Would Privatizing Social Security Raise Economic Welfare?," NBER Working Papers 5281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Butelmann, A. & Gallego, F., 2000. "Household Saving in Chile: Microeconomic Evidence," Papers 63, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  7. Michael Pakko, 2009. "Deficits, debt and looming disaster : reform of entitlement programs may be the only hope," The Regional Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 4-9.
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