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Means-Tested Age Pension and Homeownership: Is There a Link?

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  • Sang-Wook (Stanley) Cho

    ()
    (School of Economics, The University of New South Wales)

  • Renuka Sane

    ()
    (School of Economics, The University of New South Wales)

Abstract

Several targeted welfare programs across the world have made owner-occupied housing exempt from the means test, such as the Supplementary Social Income (SSI) in the US and the age pension scheme in Australia. Relatively little is known about the impact of such exemption on household portfolio choice. We study the case of the Australian age pension scheme, and argue that current uncapped exemption may lead to distortionary incentives for very high levels of housing wealth to be sheltered from the means test. We set up a quantitative lifecycle framework, with business and housing investment, borrowing constraints, and wealth inequality, that is able to match a number of key features in the Australian economy. We find that abolishing the current exemption of owner-occupied housing in the assets test increases aggregate output, capital accumulation, and welfare, while lowering housing investment and homeownership. However, removing such distortions, however, does not necessarily imply that all households would be better off. The lowering of other taxes to maintain fiscal balance would result in households at the top of the wealth distribution experiencing a large welfare loss, however the majority of the population would benefit.

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File URL: http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/RePEc/papers/2011-02.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economics, The University of New South Wales in its series Discussion Papers with number 2011-02.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2011-02

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Keywords: means-tested age pension; homeownership; lifecycle model; portfolio choice;

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References

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  1. Matthew Chambers & Carlos Garriga, 2005. "Accounting for Changes in the Homeownership Rate," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 304, Society for Computational Economics.
  2. Martin Gervais, 1998. "Housing Taxation and Capital Accumulation," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9807, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  3. Ortalo-Magné, François & Rady, Sven, 2005. "Housing Market Dynamics: On the Contribution of Income Shocks and Credit Constraint," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 50, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  4. David Neumark & Elizabeth Powers, 1997. "The Effect of Means-Tested Income Support for the Elderly on Pre-Retirement Saving: Evidence from the SSI Program in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 6303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Chung Tran & Alan Woodland, 2011. "Trade-Offs in Means Tested Pension Design," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2011-550, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  6. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
  7. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1992. "Saving, Growth and Liquidity Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. James Sefton & Justin vandeVen & Martin Weale, 2008. "Means Testing Retirement Benefits: fostering equity or discouraging savings?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 556-590, 04.
  9. Bottazzi, Renata & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2011. "The portfolio effect of pension reforms: evidence from Italy," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(01), pages 75-97, January.
  10. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  11. repec:nsr:niesrd:283 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Powers, Elizabeth T., 1998. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? evidence from a change in AFDC policy in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 33-53, April.
  13. Kudrna, George & Woodland, Alan, 2011. "An inter-temporal general equilibrium analysis of the Australian age pension means test," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 61-79, March.
  14. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Alexander Michaelides & Kalin Nikolov, 2010. "Winners and Losers in House Markets," Working Papers 2010-5, Central Bank of Cyprus.
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Cited by:
  1. George Kudrna & Alan Woodland, 2012. "Progressive Tax Changes to Private Pensions in a Life-Cycle Framework," Working Papers 201209, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales.
  2. Alexandra Spicer & Olena Stavrunova & Susan Thorp, 2013. "How Portfolios Evolve After Retirement: Evidence from Australia," CAMA Working Papers 2013-40, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  3. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Vincent Hildebrand, 2009. "Portfolio Allocation in the Face of a Means-Tested Public Pension," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 260, McMaster University.
  4. Hardy Hulley & Rebecca Mckibbin & Andreas Pedersen & Susan Thorp, 2013. "Means-Tested Public Pensions, Portfolio Choice and Decumulation in Retirement," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(284), pages 31-51, 03.
  5. John Piggott & Renuka Sane, 2011. "The Impact on Residential Choice of the Family Home Exemption in Resource-Tested Transfer Programs," Working Papers 201112, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales.

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