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Is Altruism Important for Understanding the Long-Run Effects of Social Security?

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  • Luisa Fuster

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and University of Western Ontario)

Abstract

This paper quantifies the effects of social security on capital accumulation and wealth distribution in a life-cycle framework with altruistic individuals. The main findings of this paper are that the current U.S. social security system has a significant impact on capital accumulation and wealth distribution. I find that social security crowds out 8% of the capital stock of an economy without social security. This effect is driven by the distortions of labor supply due to the taxation of labor income rather than by the intergenerational redistribution of income imposed by the social security system. In contrast to previous analysis of social security, I found that social security does not affect the savings rate of the economy. Another interesting finding is that even though the current U.S. social security system is progressive in its benefits, it may lead to a more dispersed distribution of wealth. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/redy.1999.0063
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 2 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 616-637

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:2:y:1999:i:3:p:616-637

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Related research

Keywords: social security; altruism; capital accumulation; labor market distortions; wealth distribution;

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References

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  1. John Laitner & F. Thomas Juster, 1993. "New evidence on altruism: a study of TIAA-CREF retirees," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 86, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Luis M. Cubeddu, 1996. "The intra-generational redistributive effects of social security," Economics Working Papers 168, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  4. Finn E. Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1994. "The computational experiment: an econometric tool," Working Paper 9420, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  5. Laitner, John, 1991. "Modeling Marital Connections among Family Lines," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1123-41, December.
  6. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  7. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
  8. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
  9. Robert B. Barsky & N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1987. "Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities," NBER Working Papers 1400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
  11. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  12. Hansen, G D, 1993. "The Cyclical and Secular Behaviour of the Labour Input: Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 71-80, Jan.-Marc.
  13. Mark Huggett, 1995. "The one-sector growth model with idiosyncratic shocks," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 105, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Luisa Fuster, 1999. "Is Altruism Important for Understanding the Long-Run Effects of Social Security?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 616-637, July.
  15. David Altig & Steve J. Davis, 1991. "Borrowing Constraints and Two-Sided Altruism With an Application to Social Security," NBER Working Papers 3913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Laitner, John, 1988. "Bequests, Gifts, and Social Security," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 275-99, April.
  17. R. Glenn Hubbard & Kenneth L. Judd, 1985. "Social Security and Individual Welfare: Precautionary Saving, LiquidityConstraints, and the Payroll Tax," NBER Working Papers 1736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Precautionary Saving and Accidental Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 777-91, September.
  19. Luisa Fuster, 1995. "Altruism, uncertain lifetime and the distribution of wealth," Economics Working Papers 150, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  20. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
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