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Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform

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  • John F. Cogan
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

Recently we were asked to serve on the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security (CSSS) along with 14 other members drawn equally from both major political parties. The Commission's charge was to provide recommendations to modernize the Social Security system, restore its fiscal soundness, and develop a workable system of Personal Retirement Accounts. This paper explains how the Commission arrived at some of its recommendations and the role that economics played in contributing to these recommendations. We describe the key institutional constraints confronting efforts to reform Social Security and how these constraints influenced Commission decisions. We also illustrate how economics research influenced the Commission's analysis of how to structure personal accounts, ways to enhance traditional Social Security program finances, and means of measuring the extent of financial progress achieved through reform.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Cogan & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 149-172, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:17:y:2003:i:2:p:149-172
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533003765888485
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533003765888485
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B. (ed.), 2002. "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226241067, May.
    2. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld02-1, April.
    3. Feldstein, Martin, 1996. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 1-14, May.
    4. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Poterba, James M. & Warshawsky, Mark J., 2001. "The Role of Annuity Markets in Financing Retirement," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262529130, July.
    5. John B. Shoven, 2000. "Administrative Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number shov00-1, April.
    6. Henry J. Aaron & John B. Shoven, 1999. "Should the United States Privatize Social Security?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011743 edited by Benjamin M. Friedman, January.
    7. Richard V. Burkhauser & Mary C. Daly, 2002. "Policy Watch: U.S. Disability Policy in a Changing Environment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 213-224, Winter.
    8. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2001. "How effective is redistribution under the social security benefit formula?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-28, October.
    9. Samwick, Andrew & Feldstein, Martin, 2001. "Potential Paths of Social Security Reform," Scholarly Articles 2920119, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    10. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1994. "Generational Accounting: A Meaningful Way to Evaluate Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 73-94, Winter.
    11. Martin S. Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Introduction to "The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 2001. "Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, pages 149-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 2004. "Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Micro-Estimation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub04-1, April.
    14. Gramlich, Edward M, 1996. "Different Approaches for Dealing with Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 358-362, May.
    15. Smetters, Kent, 2002. "Controlling the cost of minimum benefit guarantees in public pension conversions," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 9-33, March.
    16. Robert Haveman, 1994. "Should Generational Accounts Replace Public Budgets and Deficits?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 95-111, Winter.
    17. Ranguelova, Elena & Feldstein, Martin S., 2000. "Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing The Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," Scholarly Articles 10456097, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    18. John B. Shoven, 2000. "Introduction to "Administrative Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform"," NBER Chapters,in: Administrative Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 1-8 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Horneff, Wolfram J. & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Stamos, Michael Z., 2010. "Variable payout annuities and dynamic portfolio choice in retirement," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 163-183, April.
    2. Annamaria Lusardi & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "Optimal Financial Knowledge and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 431-477.
    3. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_567 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities," NBER Working Papers 11271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Muermann, Alexander & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Volkman, Jacqueline M., 2006. "Regret, portfolio choice, and guarantees in defined contribution schemes," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 219-229, October.
    6. Wolfram Horneff & Raimond Maurer & Olivia Mitchell & Michael Stamos, 2007. "Money in Motion: Dynamic Portfolio Choice in Retirement," Working Papers wp152, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    7. Jeffrey R. Brown & Arie Kapteyn & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Olivia Mitchell, 2012. "Do Consumers Know How to Value Annuities? Complexity as a Barrier to Annuitization," Working Papers WR-924-SSA, RAND Corporation.
    8. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities versus Phased Withdrawal Plans," Working Papers wp063, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    9. Olivia S. Mitchell & John W.R. Phillips, 2006. "Social Security Replacement Rates for Alternative Earnings Benchmarks," Working Papers wp116, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    10. Redwood, Daniel & Carrera, Leandro N. & Armstrong, John & Pennanen, Teemu, 2013. "What level of pension contribution is needed to obtain an adequate retirement income?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 54233, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Olivia S. Mitchell & John W. R. Phillips & Andrew Au & David McCarthy, 2003. "Lifetime Earnings Variability and Retirement Wealth," Working Papers wp051, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    12. Lee Redding, 2006. "Social Security Reform and Corporate Governance," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 235-246.
    13. Horneff, Wolfram J. & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Dus, Ivica, 2008. "Following the rules: Integrating asset allocation and annuitization in retirement portfolios," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 396-408, February.
    14. Wolfram Horneff & Raimond Maurer & Olivia Mitchell & Ivica Dus, 2006. "Optimizing the Retirement Portfolio: Asset Allocation, Annuitization, and Risk Aversion," Working Papers wp124, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    15. repec:oup:jeurec:v:15:y:2017:i:2:p:429-462. is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Alberto Arenas de Mesa & David Bravo & Jere R. Behrman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Petra E. Todd, 2006. "The Chilean Pension Reform Turns 25: Lessons From the Social Protection Survey," NBER Working Papers 12401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Jeffrey R. Brown & Arie Kapteyn & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "Cognitive Constraints on Valuing Annuities," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 429-462.
    18. Andrew Au & Olivia S. Mitchell & John W. R. Phillips, 2004. "Modeling Lifetime Earnings Paths: Hypothetical versus Actual Workers," Working Papers wp074, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    19. David Bravo Urrutia & Olivia S. Mitchell & Petra Todd, 2007. "Learning from the Chilean Experience: The Determinants of Pension Switching," Working Papers wp266, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    20. Ning Tang & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2008. "The Efficiency of Pension Plan Investment Menus: Investment Choices in Defined Contribution Pension Plans," Working Papers wp176, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    21. Hazel Bateman & Susan Thorp, 2005. "Decentralised Portfolio Management: Analysis of Australian Accumulation Funds," Research Paper Series 161, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
    22. Marie-Eve Lachance & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Guaranteeing Individual Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 257-260, May.

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