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Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform

In: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment

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  • Martin Feldstein

Abstract

This paper describes the risks implied by a mixed system of Social Security pension benefits with different combinations of pay-as-you-go taxes and personal retirement account (PRA) saving. The analysis shows how these risks can be reduced by using alternative private market guarantee strategies. The first such strategy uses a blend of equities and TIPS to guarantee at least a positive real rate or return on each year's PRA saving. The second is an explicit zero-cost collar that guarantees an annual rate of return by giving up all returns above a certain level. One variant of these guarantees uses a two stage procedure: a guaranteed return to age 66 and then a separate guarantee on the implicit return in the annuity phase. An alternative strategy provides a combined guarantee on the return during both the accumulation and the annuity phase. Simulations are presented of the probability distributions of retirement incomes relative to the "benchmark" benefits specified in current law. Calculations of expected utility show that these risk reduction techniques can raise expected utility relative to the plans with no guarantees. The ability to do so depends on the individual's risk aversion level. This underlines the idea that different individuals would rationally prefer different investment strategies and risk reduction options.

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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, octubre-d.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 4545.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:4545

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. John B. Shoven, 2000. "Introduction to "Administrative Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters, in: Administrative Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 1-8 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. John Y. Campbell & Martin Feldstein, 2001. "Introduction to "Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Martin Feldstein, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 33-55, Spring.
    2. Marie-Eve Lachance & Olivia S. Mitchell & Kent Smetters, 2003. "Guaranteeing Defined Contribution Pensions: The Option to Buy Back a Defined Benefit Promise," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 70(1), pages 1-16.
    3. Olivia S. Mitchell & Alexander Muermann, 2003. "The Demand for Guarantees in Social Security Personal Retirement Accounts," Working Papers wp060, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    4. James M. Poterba & Joshua Rauh & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2009. "Reducing Social Security PRA Risk at the Individual Level: Life-Cycle Funds and No-Loss Strategies," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 255-292 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Cerny, Ales & Miles, David K, 2001. "Risk Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Systems with Imperfect Financial Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 2779, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. James M. Poterba & Joshua Rauh & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2009. "Lifecycle Asset Allocation Strategies and the Distribution of 401(k) Retirement Wealth," NBER Chapters, in: Developments in the Economics of Aging, pages 15-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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