The Treatment of Married Women by the Social Security Retirement Program
AbstractIt is generally accepted that the Social Security program pays women a higher average ratio of lifetime benefits to lifetime taxes than it does men. Social Security’s progressive benefit structure and annuity payment combine with women’s lower average earnings and longer average life spans to provide women with more favorable treatment on a lifetime basis. This more favorable treatment does not necessarily imply that women are presented with stronger incentives to participate in the labor force and contribute to Social Security than are men. If anything, Social Security does the opposite. The auxiliary benefit provisions, including spousal and widow’s benefits, mean that many women do not receive higher benefits in return for their contributions than they would have received had they never worked or contributed to the program. In this paper, we calculate two measures of treatment by Social Security using the SSA’s Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT) micro-simulation model: the net tax rate, which reflects the net value of Social Security taxes and benefits as a percentage of lifetime earnings; and the generated net tax rate, which represents the net value of benefits received in return for a participant’s taxes relative to lifetime earnings. While women pay low and even negative average net taxes to Social Security, their generated net tax rates are higher and often equal the full statutory tax rate. Men, by contrast, pay higher net tax rates but lower generated net tax rates, as their earnings may generate additional benefits for their spouse or survivor. The work incentives presented by Social Security may differ significantly from those implied by measures of overall treatment by the program.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2010-17.
Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision: Nov 2010
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Hovey House, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Phone: (617) 552-1762
Fax: (617) 552-0191
Web page: http://crr.bc.edu/
More information through EDIRC
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGE-2011-02-05 (Economics of Ageing)
- NEP-ALL-2011-02-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2011-02-05 (Labour Economics)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Amy Grzybowski) or (Christopher F Baum).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.