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Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts

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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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1664.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
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Publication status: Published in Jeffrey R. Brown, Jeffrey B. Liebman and David A. Wise, eds., Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, University of Chicago Press, 2009, pp. 73-121
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1664

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Keywords: Social Security; Personal accounts; Risk-sharing;

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References

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  1. Auerbach, Alan J. & Lee, Ronald D, 2007. "Notional Defined Contribution Pension Systems in a Stochastic Context: Design and Stability," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics qt37k785qq, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  2. Bohn, Henning, 2001. "Retirement Savings in an Aging Society: A Case for Innovative Government Debt Management," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt59r83559, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Hans Fehr & Fabian Kindermann, 2009. "Pension funding and individual accounts in economies with life-cyclers and myopes," Working Papers 2009/23, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  2. Ludwig, Alexander & Schelkle, Thomas & Vogel, Edgar, 2010. "Demographic Change, Human Capital and Welfare," MEA discussion paper series 10196, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  3. Alexander Ludwig & Thomas Schelkle & Edgar Vogel, 2011. "Online Appendix to "Demographic Change, Human Capital and Welfare"," Technical Appendices 08-168, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  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. John Geanakoplos & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2009. "Market Valuation of Accrued Social Security Benefits," NBER Working Papers 15170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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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