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Internationally Common Features of Public Old-Age Pensions, and Their Implications for Models of the Public Sector

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  • Mulligan Casey B

    () (University of Chicago)

  • Sala-i-Martin Xavier

    () (Columbia University)

Abstract

What does the international history of old-age Social Security program design say about the forces creating and sustaining it as a public program? First, because many program features are internationally common, and/or explained by country characteristics, SS may emerge and grow due to systematic political and economic forces. Second, some observations suggest that political forces are important: (a) SS redistributes from young to old, even when the elderly consume as much or more than do the young, and (b) benefits increase with lifetime earnings and are hardly means-tested. On the other hand, it is not simply a matter of the elderly out-voting the young, because: (c) benefit formulas induce retirement, especially in the countries with the largest SS budgets, and (d) similar public pension programs emerge and grow under very different political regimes. We explain how empirical observations, and some currently unanswered empirical questions, relate to various public pension theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Mulligan Casey B & Sala-i-Martin Xavier, 2004. "Internationally Common Features of Public Old-Age Pensions, and Their Implications for Models of the Public Sector," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-37, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:advances.4:y:2004:i:1:n:4
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. de Mendonça, Helder Ferreira & Tiberto, Bruno Pires, 2014. "Public debt and social security: Level of formality matters," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 490-507.
    2. Andersen, Torben M., 2008. "Increasing longevity and social security reforms--A legislative procedure approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 633-646, April.
    3. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, 2007. "The Redistributive Design of Social Security Systems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 686-712, April.
    4. Tim Krieger & Jens Ruhose, 2013. "Honey, I shrunk the kids’ benefits—revisiting intergenerational conflict in OECD countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 115-143, October.
    5. Perotti, Enrico & Schwienbacher, Armin, 2009. "The political origin of pension funding," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 384-404, July.
    6. Gonzalez-Eiras, Marti­n & Niepelt, Dirk, 2008. "The future of social security," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 197-218, March.
    7. Marko Koethenbuerger & Panu Poutvaara & Paola Profeta, 2008. "Why are more redistributive social security systems smaller? A median voter approach," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 275-292, April.
    8. Gonzales-Eiras, Martín & Niepelt, Dirk, 2004. "Sustaining Social Security," Seminar Papers 731, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    9. Marco Bassetto, 2008. "Political Economy of Taxation in an Overlapping-Generations Economy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(1), pages 18-43, January.
    10. Rakesh Mohan, 2004. "Fiscal challenges of population aging : the Asian experience," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 299-357.
    11. Song Han & Casey B. Mulligan, 2008. "Inflation and the size of government," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 245-267.
    12. Martín Gonzales-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2007. "Population Ageing, Government Budgets, and Productivity Growth in Politico-Economic Equilibrium," Working Papers 07.05, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
    13. Lawrence Kenny & Stanley Winer, 2006. "Tax Systems in the World: An Empirical Investigation into the Importance of Tax Bases, Administration Costs, Scale and Political Regime," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 13(2), pages 181-215, May.

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