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Social Security and Medicare Policy from the Perspective of Generational Accounting

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Abstract

Our previous study (Auerbach, Gokhale and Kotlikoff 1991) introduced the concept of generational accounting, a method of determining how the burden of fiscal policy falls on different generations. it found that fiscal policy in the U.S. is out of balance, in terms of projected generational burdens. This means that either current generations will bear a larger share (than we project under current law) of the burden of the government's spending or that future generations will have to pay, on average, at least 21 percent more, on a growth-adjusted basis, than will those generations who have just been born. These conclusions were based on relatively optimistic assumptions about the path of social security sod Medicare policies, namely that the accumulation of a social security trust fund would continue and that Medicare costs would not rise as a share of QP. In this paper, we simulate the effects of realistic alternative paths for social security and Medicare. Our results suggest that such alternative policies could greatly increase the imbalance in generational policy, making not only future generations pay significantly more, but current young Americans as well. For example, continued expansion of Medicare in this decade alone could double the 21 percent imbalance figure if the bill for this Medicare growth is shifted primarily to future generations.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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This chapter was published in:

  • James M. Poterba, 1992. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brad92-1, May.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10842.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10842

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    1. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational accounts: a meaningful alternative to deficit accounting," Working Paper 9103, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Bohn, Henning, 1995. "The Sustainability of Budget Deficits in a Stochastic Economy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 257-71, February.
    3. Auerbach, Alan J & Gokhale, Jagadeesh & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1992. " Generational Accounting: A New Approach to Understanding the Effects of Fiscal Policy on Saving," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(2), pages 303-18.
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