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Social Security and Medicare Policy From the Perspective of Generational Accounting

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Abstract

Our previous study (Auerbach, Gokhale and Kotlikoff 1991) introduced the concept of generational accounting, a method of determining how the burden of fiscal policy falls on different generations. it found that fiscal policy in the U.S. is out of balance, in terms of projected generational burdens. This means that either current generations will bear a larger share (than we project under current law) of the burden of the government's spending or that future generations will have to pay, on average, at least 21 percent more, on a growth-adjusted basis, than will those generations who have just been born. These conclusions were based on relatively optimistic assumptions about the path of social security sod Medicare policies, namely that the accumulation of a social security trust fund would continue and that Medicare costs would not rise as a share of QP. In this paper, we simulate the effects of realistic alternative paths for social security and Medicare. Our results suggest that such alternative policies could greatly increase the imbalance in generational policy, making not only future generations pay significantly more, but current young Americans as well. For example, continued expansion of Medicare in this decade alone could double the 21 percent imbalance figure if the bill for this Medicare growth is shifted primarily to future generations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3915.

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Date of creation: Nov 1991
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Publication status: published as Auerbach, Alan J., Jagadeesh Gokhale and Laurence J. Kotlikoff. "Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way To Evaluate Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1994, v8(1), 73-94
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3915

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  1. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts - A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Working Papers 3589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Auerbach, Alan J & Gokhale, Jagadeesh & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1992. " Generational Accounting: A New Approach to Understanding the Effects of Fiscal Policy on Saving," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(2), pages 303-18.
  3. Bohn, H., 1990. "The Sutainability Of Budget Deficits In A Stochastic Economy," Weiss Center Working Papers, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research 6-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
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