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Private Saving and Public Policy

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • John Karl Scholz

Abstract

The evidence presented in this paper supports the view that many Americans, particularly those without a college education, save too little. Our analysis also indicates that it should be possible to increase total personal saving among lower income households by encouraging the formation and expansion of private pension plans. It is doubtful that favorable tax treatment of capital income would stimulate significant additional saving by this group. Conversely, the expansion of private pensions would probably have little effect on saving by higher income households. However, these households are more likely to increase saving significantly in response to favorable tax treatment of capital income. Currently, eligibility for IRAs is linked to an AGI cap, and pension coverage is more common among higher income households than among low income households. The most effective system for promoting personal saving would have precisely the opposite features. Extending tax incentives for saving to higher income households is problematic. We discuss three competing policy options, IRAs with AGI caps, the universal IRA, and the Premium Saving Account (PSA). Our analysis reveals that the PSA system is a more cost-effective vehicle for providing saving incentives to, all households, particularly those in the top quintile of the income distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4215.

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Date of creation: Nov 1992
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Publication status: published as Tax Policy and the Economy, Edited by James Poterba Volume 7, MIT Press (May 1993): 73-110.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4215

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  1. Daniel Feenberg & Jonathan Skinner, 1989. "Sources of IRA Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 3, pages 25-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1991. "The Saving Effect of Tax-deferred Retirement Accounts: Evidence from SIPP," NBER Chapters, in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 103-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Douglas H. Joines & James G. Manegold, 1991. "IRAs and saving: evidence from a panel of taxpayers," Research Working Paper 91-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. Gale, W.G. & scholz, J.K., 1992. "IRAS and Household Saving," Papers 9244, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  5. Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1990. "Have IRAs Increased U.S. Saving? Evidence from Consumer Expenditure Surveys," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 661-98, August.
  6. Bernheim, B Douglas & Stark, Oded, 1988. "Altruism within the Family Reconsidered: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1034-45, December.
  7. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1986. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Working Papers 1879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1987. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 7-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Martin Feldstein, 1992. "College Scholarship Rules and Private Saving," NBER Working Papers 4032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1992. "Government Policy and Personal Retirement Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 1-42 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Issues in National Savings Policy," NBER Working Papers 1710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. repec:fth:stanho:e-92-17 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "The Adequacy of Savings," NBER Working Papers 0627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1989. "Aging, Moving, and Housing Wealth," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Aging, pages 9-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. B. Douglas Bernheim & John B. Shoven, 1985. "Pension Funding and Saving," NBER Working Papers 1622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  16. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
  17. Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1986. "Tax-Deferred Accounts, Constrained Choice and Estimation of Individual Saving," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 579-601, August.
  18. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1.
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