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Should income transfers be targeted or universal? Insights from public pension influences on elderly mortality in Canada, 1921-1966

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  • J.C. Herbert Emery
  • Jesse A. Matheson

Abstract

We investigate the impact of Canada's means-tested and universal public pension programs on the mortality rates of age groups eligible for pension benefits for the period 1921-1966. We find that only the universal program significantly reduced pension eligible age group mortality rates. The implied social value of the mortality risk reduction from this program is one-tenth of the value per statistical life associated with contemporary government policy, meaning that Canadians did not need to place a high value on the life of a senior to justify the higher cost of the universal program. JEL classification: I3, J1

Suggested Citation

  • J.C. Herbert Emery & Jesse A. Matheson, 2012. "Should income transfers be targeted or universal? Insights from public pension influences on elderly mortality in Canada, 1921-1966," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 45(1), pages 247-269, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:45:y:2012:i:1:p:247-269
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2004. "Returns to investment in education: a further update," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 111-134.
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    5. Peter Birch Sørensen (ed.), 2004. "Measuring the Tax Burden on Capital and Labor," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195038, January.
    6. Mervyn A. King & Don Fullerton, 1984. "Introduction to "The Taxation of Income from Capital: A Comparative Study of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Germany"," NBER Chapters,in: The Taxation of Income from Capital: A Comparative Study of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Germany, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pfutze,Tobias & Rodriguez Castelan,Carlos, 2015. "Can a small social pension promote labor force participation ? evidence from the Colombia Mayor program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7516, The World Bank.
    2. Littlewood, Michael, 2014. "Ageing populations, retirement incomes and public policy: what really matters," MPRA Paper 56232, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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