Individual Risk in an Investment-Based Social Security System
AbstractThis paper examines the risk aspects of an investment-based defined contribution Social Security plan. We focus on the risk after the plan is fully phased in. Individuals deposit a fraction of wages to a Personal Retirement Account (PRA), invest these funds in a 60:40 equity-debt mix, and in a similarly invested annuity at age 67. The value of the assets follows a random walk with mean and variance of a 60:40 equity-debt portfolio over the period 1946-95, a mean log return of 5.5 percent (net of administrative costs of 0.4 percent) and a standard deviation of 12.5 percent. We study he stochastic distributions of this process by doing 10,000 simulations of the 80-year experience of the cohort that reached age 21 in 1998. The resulting annuities are compared to the future defined benefits specified in current law (the benchmark' benefits). With no uncertainty, a 5.5 percent log return would permit the benchmark benefits to be purchased with PRA deposits of 3.1 percent of payroll, only one-sixth of the pay-as-you-go tax needed for the benchmark benefits. Saving a higher share of wages provides a cushion' that protects the individual from the risk of an unacceptably low level of benefits. For example, PRA deposits of 6 percent of wages reduces the probability that the benefits are less than the benchmark to 0.17 and the probability that they are less than 61 percent of the benchmark to 0.05. PRA deposits of 9 percent of wages (half of the tax rate required in a pay-as-you-go system) would substantially reduce these risks. This pure investment-based plan is an extreme case. The investment risk can be reduced further by using a mixed system that combines pay-as-you-go and investment-based components or that makes intergenerational transfers conditional on the performance of stock and bond prices.
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 Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 2797440.
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ben Steinberg).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.