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Savings Accounts and the Life-Cycle Approach to Social Insurance

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  • Peter Birch Sørensen

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Martin Ino Hansen

    (Statistics Denmark)

  • A. Lans Bovenberg

    (Tilburg University)

Abstract

Using Danish data, we find that about three fourths of the taxes levied to finance public transfers actually finance benefits that do not redistribute between people but redistribute income over the life cycle of individual taxpayers. This provides a rationale for financing part of social insurance via mandatory individual savings accounts. An account system that offers liquidity insurance and a lifetime income guarantee helps to alleviate the dilemma between insurance and incentives. To illustrate this, we analyse a specific proposal for reform of the Danish system of social insurance, involving the use of individual accounts. We estimate how the reform would affect the distribution of lifetime incomes, the public budget, and economic efficiency. Our analysis suggests that, even with conservative assumptions regarding labor supply elasticities, the proposed reform would generate a Pareto improvement and would imply only a minor increase in the inequality of lifetime income distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 06-03.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:06-03

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Keywords: social insurance; individual accounts; lifetime income distribution;

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  1. Caliendo, Marco & Kopeinig, Sabine, 2005. "Some Practical Guidance for the Implementation of Propensity Score Matching," IZA Discussion Papers 1588, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Lans Bovenberg & Peter Birch Sørensen, 2003. "Improving the Equity-Efficiency Trade-off: Mandatory Savings Accounts for Social Insurance," CESifo Working Paper Series 1041, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Herwig Immervoll & Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Microsimulation Analysis," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 28, OECD Publishing.
  4. Julia Lynn Coronado & Don Fullerton & Thomas Glass, 2000. "The Progressivity of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 7520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey B Liebman, 2002. "Redistribution in the Current U.S. Social Security System," Working Papers 02-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Altman, 2007. "Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21, pages 35-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Frederiksen, Anders & Graversen, Ebbe K. & Smith, Nina, 2001. "Overtime Work, Dual Job Holding and Taxation," IZA Discussion Papers 323, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2001. "How effective is redistribution under the social security benefit formula?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-28, October.
  9. Stiglitz, Joseph E. & Yun, Jungyoll, 2005. "Integration of unemployment insurance with retirement insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2037-2067, December.
  10. Orszag, Mike & Snower, Dennis J., 1997. "Expanding the Welfare System: A Proposal for Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 1674, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Nelissen, Jan H. M., 1998. "Annual versus lifetime income redistribution by social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 223-249, May.
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