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Removing the Disincentives in Social Security for Long Careers

In: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment

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  • Gopi Shah Goda
  • John B. Shoven
  • Sita Nataraj Slavov

Abstract

Implicit taxes in Social Security, which measure Social Security contributions net of benefits accrued as a percentage of earnings, tend to increase over the life cycle. In this paper, we examine the effects of three potential policy changes on implicit Social Security tax rates: extending the number of years used in the Social Security formula from 35 to 40; allowing individuals who have worked more than 40 years to be exempt from payroll taxes; and distinguishing between lifetime low-income earners and high-income earners who work short careers. These three changes can be achieved in a benefit- and revenue-neutral manner, and create a pattern of implicit tax rates that are much less distortionary over the life cycle, eliminating the high implicit tax rates faced by many elderly workers. The effects of these policies on progressivity and women are also examined.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey B. Liebman & David A. Wise, 2009. "Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brow08-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 4531.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:4531

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    References

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    1. Feldstein, Martin & Samwick, Andrew A., 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, March.
    2. Gary Burtless & Joseph F. Quinn, 2002. "Is Working Longer the Answer for an Aging Workforce?," Issues in Brief ib2002-11, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2002.
    3. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    4. Jonathan Gruber & David Wise, 1997. "Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Introduction and Summary of Papers by..," NBER Working Papers 6134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Robert Fenge & Silke Uebelmesser & Martin Werding, 2002. "Second-best Properties of Implicit Social Security Taxes: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 743, CESifo Group Munich.
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    Cited by:
    1. Steven Nyce & Sylvester Schieber & John B. Shoven & Sita Slavov & David A. Wise, 2011. "Does Retiree Health Insurance Encourage Early Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 17703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gopi Shah Goda & John B. Shoven & Sita Nataraj Slavov, 2011. "Implicit Taxes on Work from Social Security and Medicare," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 69 - 88.
    3. Gopi Shah Goda & John Shoven & Sita Slavov, 2009. "A Tax On Work For The Elderly: Medicare As A Secondary Payer," Discussion Papers 08-60, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    4. John Chalmers & Woodrow T. Johnson & Jonathan Reuter, 2012. "The Effect of Pension Design on Employer Costs and Employee Retirement Choices: Evidence from Oregon," NBER Working Papers 18517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. David Wise, 2010. "Facilitating longer working lives: International evidence on why and how," Demography, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages S131-S149, March.
    6. John B. Shoven, 2010. "New Age Thinking: Alternative Ways of Measuring Age, Their Relationship to Labor Force Participation, Government Policies, and GDP," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 17-31 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gopi Shah Goda & John Shoven, 2009. "New Age Thinking: Alternative Ways of Measuring Age, Their Relationship to Labor Force Participation, Government Policies and GDP," Discussion Papers 08-056, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    8. Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2010. "Public pensions and labor supply over the life cycle," Working Paper Series WP-2010-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    9. John B. Shoven, 2007. "New Age Thinking: Alternative Ways of Measuring Age, Their Relationship to Labor Force Participation, Goverment Policies and GDP," NBER Working Papers 13476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Laitner, John & Silverman, Dan, 2012. "Consumption, retirement and social security: Evaluating the efficiency of reform that encourages longer careers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(7-8), pages 615-634.
    11. Liebman, Jeffrey B. & Luttmer, Erzo F.P. & Seif, David G., 2009. "Labor Supply Responses to Marginal Social Security Benefits: Evidence from Discontinuities," Scholarly Articles 4481678, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    12. Kenneth J. Matheny, 2009. "Trends in the aggregate labor force," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 297-310.

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