The Optimal Design of Social Security Benefits
AbstractThe United States Social Security system is fairly unique in that it explicitly allows for a progressive formulation of retirement benefits by assigning a larger replacement rate to workers with small pre-retirement wages. In contrast, the public pension systems in other countries often replace a constant fraction of pre-retirement wages, although the length of the “averaging period" is typically shorter relative to the U.S. This paper examines the ex-ante optimal U.S. Social Security benefit structure using the model developed in Nishiyama and Smetters (2007). On one hand, progressivity in the benefit structure provides risk sharing against shocks that are difficult to insure privately. On the other hand, progressivity introduces various marginal tax rates that distort labor supply. Rather surprisingly, we find that the ex-ante best U.S. Social Security replacement rate structure is fairly “flat.” Intuitively, the relatively long averaging period used in the U.S. system formulation already provides some insurance against negative idiosyncratic shocks, but in a manner that is more efficient than explicit redistribution.
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 University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp197.
Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: (734) 615-0422
Fax: (734) 647-4575
Web page: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/
More information through EDIRC
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGE-2009-07-17 (Economics of Ageing)
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2009-07-17 (Labour Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001.
NBER Working Papers
8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2005.
"Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?,"
NBER Working Papers
11622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2007. "Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1677-1719, November.
- Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?," Working Papers wp106, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
- David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
- Kallweit, Manuel & Fehr, Hans & Kindermann, Fabian, 2011.
"Should pensions be progressive? Yes, at least in Germany!,"
Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis
48708, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
- Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2011. "Should Pensions be Progressive? Yes, at least in Germany!," CESifo Working Paper Series 3636, CESifo Group Munich.
- Fehr, Hans & Uhde, Johannes, 2012. "Optimal Pension Design in General Equlibrium," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62024, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (MRRC Administrator).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.