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Welfare and Generational Equity in Sustainable Unfunded Pension Systems

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Ronald Lee

Abstract

We evaluate several actual and hypothetical sustainable PAYGO pension structures, including: (1) versions of the US Social Security system with annual adjustments of taxes or benefits to maintain fiscal balance; (2) Sweden's Notional Defined Contribution system and several variants developed to improve fiscal stability; and (3) the German system, which also includes annual adjustments to maintain fiscal balance. For each system, we present descriptive measures of uncertainty in representative outcomes for a typical generation and across generations. We then estimate expected utility for generations based on simplifying assumptions and incorporate these expected utility calculations in an overall social welfare measure. Using a horizontal equity index, we also compare the different systems' performance in terms of how neighboring generations are treated. While the actual Swedish system smoothes stochastic fluctuations more than any other and produces the highest degree of horizontal equity, it does so by accumulating a buffer stock of assets that alleviates the need for frequent adjustments. In terms of social welfare, this accumulation of assets leads to a lower average rate of return that more than offsets the benefits of risk reduction, leaving systems with more frequent adjustments that spread risks broadly among generations as those most preferred.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14682.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14682

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  1. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin A. Hassett, 1999. "A New Measure of Horizontal Equity," NBER Working Papers 7035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ronald Lee & Timothy Miller & Michael Anderson, 2004. "Stochastic Infinite Horizon Forecasts for Social Security and Related Studies," NBER Working Papers 10917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement around the World," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub99-1, October.
  4. Axel Boersch-Supan & Christina B. Wilke, 2004. "The German Public Pension System: How it Was, How it Will Be," NBER Working Papers 10525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Settergren, Ole & Mikula, Boguslaw D., 2005. "The Rate of Return of Pay-As-You-Go Pension Systems: A More Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest," Discussion Paper 249, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  6. Ludwig, Alexander & Reiter, Michael, 2008. "Sharing Demographic Risk - Who is Afraid of the Baby Bust?," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 08-47, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  7. Jeffrey R. Brown & Jeffrey B. Liebman & David A. Wise, 2009. "Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brow08-1, October.
  8. Ronald Lee & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 1998. "Stochastic Forecasts for Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 393-428 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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 qt37k785qq, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  10. James M. Poterba, 2001. "Demographic Structure And Asset Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 565-584, November.
  11. Carter, Lawrence R. & Lee, Ronald D., 1992. "Modeling and forecasting US sex differentials in mortality," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 393-411, November.
  12. Settergren, Ole & Mikula, Boguslaw D., 2005. "The rate of return of pay-as-you-go pension systems: a more exact consumption-loan model of interest," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 115-138, July.
  13. Ronald D. Lee & Michael W. Anderson & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 2003. "Stochastic Forecasts of the Social Security Trust Fund," Working Papers wp043, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  14. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  15. Legros, Florence, 2003. "Notional Defined Contribution : A Comparison of the French and the German Point Systems," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/6478, Paris Dauphine University.
  16. Lee, Ronald D., 1993. "Modeling and forecasting the time series of US fertility: Age distribution, range, and ultimate level," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 187-202, August.
  17. Florence Legros, 2003. "Notional Defined Contribution : a Comparison of the French and the German Point Systems," Working Papers 2003-14, CEPII research center.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alexander Ludwig & Michael Reiter, 2008. "Sharing Demographic Risk – Who is Afraid of the Baby Bust?," MEA discussion paper series 08166, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  2. Akira Okamoto, 2013. "Simulating Public Pension Reforms in an Aging Japan: Welfare Analysis with LSRA Transfers," Public Policy Review, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan, vol. 9(4), pages 597-632, September.
  3. Hagen, Johannes, 2013. "A History of the Swedish Pension System," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2013:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Nisticò, Sergio & Bevilacqua, Mirko, 2013. "Notional defined contribution (NDC) pension schemes and income patterns," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 7(29), pages 1-24.
  5. Palmer, Edward, 2011. "Generic NDC - Equilibrium, Valuation and Risk Sharing with and without NDC Bonds," Working Paper Series 2011:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  6. Knell, Markus, 2013. "The Intergenerational Distribution of Demographic Fluctuations in Unfunded and Funded Pension Systems," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79830, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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