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Who Wins and Who Loses? Public Transfer Accounts for US Generations Born 1850 to 2090

  • Antoine Bommier
  • Ronald Lee
  • Tim Miller
  • Stéphane Zuber

Public transfer programs in industrial countries are thought to benefit the elderly through pension and health care programs at the expense of the young and future generations. This intergenerational picture changes, however, if public education is also considered as a transfer program. We calculate the net present value at birth of benefits received minus taxes paid for US generations born 1850 to 2090. Surprisingly, all generations 1950 to 2050 are net gainers, while many current elderly are net losers. Windfall gains from starting Social Security and Medicare partially offset windfall losses from starting public education, roughly consistent with the arguments of Becker and Murphy. Copyright (c) 2010 The Population Council, Inc..

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Article provided by The Population Council, Inc. in its journal Population and Development Review.

Volume (Year): 36 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-26

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Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:36:y:2010:i:1:p:1-26
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  1. David M. Cutler & Louise Sheiner, 2000. "Generational aspects of Medicare," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Kent Smetters, 2003. "Fiscal and generational imbalances: new budget measures for new budget priorities," Policy Discussion Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Dec.
  3. Antonio Rangel, 2000. "Forward and Backward Intergenerational Goods: A Theory of Intergenerational Exchange," NBER Working Papers 7518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts: A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 55-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "The Family and the State," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, April.
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