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Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?

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  • Shinichi Nishiyama

    (Georgia State University)

  • Kent Smetters

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

While privatizing social security can improve labor supply incentives, it can also reduce risk sharing. We analyze a 50% privatization using an overlapping-generations model where heterogeneous agents with elastic labor supply face idiosyncratic earnings shocks and longevity uncertainty. When wage shocks are insurable, privatization produces about $18,100 of extra resources for each future household after all transitional losses have been compensated for with lump-sum taxes. When wages are not insurable, privatization reduces efficiency by about $2,400 per future household. We check the robustness of these results to different model specifications as well as policy reforms and arrive at several surprising conclusions. First, privatization performs better in a closed economy, where interest rates decline with capital accumulation, than in an open economy. Second, privatization also performs better when an actuarially fair private annuity market does not exist. Third, government matching of private contributions on a progressive basis is not very effective at restoring efficiency and can actually cause harm. (c) 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 122 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1677-1719

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:4:p:1677-1719

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  1. Mariacristina De Nardi & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Thomas J. Sargent, 1999. "Projected U.S. Demographics and Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 575-615, July.
  2. Robert J. Shiller, 1998. "Social Security and Institutions for Intergenerational, Intragenerational, and International Risk Sharing," JCPR Working Papers 43, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Martin Floden & Jesper Lindé, 2001. "Idiosyncratic Risk in the United States and Sweden: Is There a Role for Government Insurance?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 406-437, July.
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  5. Peter Diamond, 2004. "Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 1-24, March.
  6. Mariger, Randall P., 1999. "Social Security Privatization: What Are the Issues?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 4), pages 783-802, December.
  7. 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.
  8. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2004. "Analyzing an Aging Population," 2004 Meeting Papers 175, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Shone,Ronald, 2002. "Economic Dynamics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521017039, October.
  10. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1998. "Perspectives on the Social Security Crisis and Proposed Solutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 142-50, May.
  11. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2002. "Bequests, Inter Vivos Transfers, and Wealth Distribution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 892-931, October.
  12. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2000. "How Effective is Redistribution Under the Social Security Benefit Formula?," NBER Working Papers 7597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Shinichi Nishiyama, 2004. "Analyzing an Aging Population---A Dynamic General Equilibrium Approach---," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-266, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  14. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Consumption Taxes and Economic Efficiency with Idiosyncratic Wage Shocks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 1088-1115, October.
  15. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 1999. "Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 757-795, October.
  16. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Would Privatizing Social Security Raise Economic Welfare?," NBER Working Papers 5281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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