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Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts

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  • John Geanakoplos
  • Stephen P Zeldes

Abstract

The heated debate about how to reform Social Security has come to a standstill because the view of most Democrats (that Social Security must be a defined benefits plan similar in spirit to the current system) seems irreconcilable with the proposals supported by many Republicans (to create a defined contribution system of personal accounts holding marketed assets). We describe a system of "progressive personal accounts" that preserves the core goals of both parties, and that is self-balancing on an ongoing basis. Progressive personal accounts have two critical features: (1) accruals into the personal accounts would be exclusively in a new kind of derivative security (which we call a PAAW for Personal Annuitized Average Wage security) that pays its owner one inflation-corrected dollar during every year of life after his statutory retirement date, multiplied by the economy wide average wage at the retirement date and (2) households would buy their new PAAWs each year with their social security contributions, augmented or reduced by a government match that would add to contributions from households with low lifetime incomes by taking from households with high lifetime incomes. PAAWS define benefits and achieve risk sharing across generations, as Democrats would like, yet can be held in personal accounts with market valuations, as Republicans propose.

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

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 122247000000002230.

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Date of creation: 10 Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:122247000000002230

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  1. Deborah Lucas, 2007. "Valuing & Hedging: Defined Benefit Pension Obligations - The Role of Stocks Revisited," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 169, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
  2. Henning Bohn, 2001. "Retirement Savings in an Aging Society: A Case for Innovative Government Debt Management," CESifo Working Paper Series 494, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach & Ronald Lee, 2009. "Notional Defined Contribution Pension Systems in a Stochastic Context: Design and Stability," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 43-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Hans Fehr & Fabian Kindermann, 2009. "Pension Funding and Individual Accounts in Economies with Life-cyclers and Myopes," CESifo Working Paper Series 2724, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Alexander Ludwig & Thomas Schelkle & Edgar Vogel, 2012. "Demographic Change, Human Capital and Welfare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(1), pages 94-107, January.
  3. John Geanakoplos & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2009. "Market Valuation of Accrued Social Security Benefits," NBER Working Papers 15170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alessandro Bucciol & Roel Beetsma, 2009. "Inter- and Intra-generational Consequences of Pension Buffer Policy under Demographic, Financial and Economic Shocks," CESifo Working Paper Series 2779, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Luca Benzoni & Olena Chyruk, 2009. "Investing over the life cycle with long-run labor income risk," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 29-43.

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