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On the Political Complementarity between Health Care and Social Security

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  • Carlos Bethencourt
  • Vincenzo Galasso

Abstract

The dramatic rise in the US social security and public health expenditure is only partially explained by the demographic trend, and may be due to the political complementarity between these two programs. We suggest that public health care increases the political constituency in favor of social security, and viceversa. Specifically, public health decreases the longevity differential between low and high-income individuals, therefore rising the retirement period, and the total pension benefits of the former relatively to the latter. This increases the political support for social security among the low-income young. We show that in a political equilibrium of a two-dimensional majoritarian election, a voting majority of low-income young and all retirees supports a large welfare state. Its composition between public health and social security is determined by intermediate (median) income types, who favor a combination of the two programs, since public health increases their longevity enough to make social security more attractive.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 184.

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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:184

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  1. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Mortality, Education, Income, and Inequality among American Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 7140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Gilles LE GARREC, 2009. "Système de retraite et vieillissement," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 93-94, pages 363-379.
  2. Rainald Borck, 2007. "On the Choice of Public Pensions when Income and Life Expectancy Are Correlated," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(4), pages 711-725, 08.
  3. William B. P. Robson, 2001. "Six Pillars of Social Policy: The State of Pensions and Health Care in Canada," The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, pages 183-224 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

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