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The cost of uncertainty about the timing of Social Security reform

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  • Caliendo, Frank N.
  • Gorry, Aspen
  • Slavov, Sita

Abstract

We develop a model to study optimal decision making in the face of uncertainty about the timing and structure of a future event. The model is used to study optimal decision making and welfare when individuals face uncertainty about when and how Social Security will be reformed. For young individuals with many years to optimally hedge the risks that they face, the welfare cost of uncertainty about the timing and structure of reform is just a few basis points of total lifetime consumption. In contrast, the cost of reform uncertainty can be greater than 1% of total lifetime consumption for individuals close to retirement, even if they have saved optimally up to that point. Finally, the cost is significantly higher still for those who do not save optimally to hedge these risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Caliendo, Frank N. & Gorry, Aspen & Slavov, Sita, 2019. "The cost of uncertainty about the timing of Social Security reform," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 101-125.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:118:y:2019:i:c:p:101-125
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2019.05.008
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    Cited by:

    1. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2016. "How Uncertain Are Economic Policies? Evidence from a survey on Japanese firms," Policy Discussion Papers 16008, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. Sagiri Kitao, 2018. "Policy Uncertainty and Cost of Delaying Reform: The Case of Aging Japan," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 81-100, January.
    3. Caliendo, Frank N. & Gorry, Aspen & Slavov, Sita, 2020. "Survival ambiguity and welfare," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 20-42.
    4. Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Andrew A. Samwick, 2018. "The Welfare Cost of Perceived Policy Uncertainty: Evidence from Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 275-307, February.
    5. Brendler, Pavel & Abraham, Arpad & Carceles, Eva, 2019. "Corporate Tax Reforms With Policy Uncertainty," Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203619, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Sita Slavov & Devon Gorry & Aspen Gorry & Frank N. Caliendo, 2019. "Social Security and Saving: An Update," Public Finance Review, , vol. 47(2), pages 312-348, March.
    7. Erin Cottle Hunt & Frank N. Caliendo, 2020. "Social Security reform: three Rawlsian options," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(6), pages 1582-1607, December.
    8. Morikawa, Masayuki, 2016. "How uncertain are economic policies? New evidence from a firm survey," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 114-122.
    9. Frank N. Caliendo & Maria Casanova & Aspen Gorry & Sita Slavov, 2016. "The Welfare Cost of Retirement Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 22609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Caliendo, Frank N. & Guo, Nick L. & Smith, Jason M., 2018. "Policy uncertainty and bank bailouts," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 111-125.
    11. Stephie Fried & Kevin Novan & William Peterman, 2019. "The Macro Effects of Anticipating Climate Policy," 2019 Meeting Papers 683, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Policy uncertainty; Social Security reform; Retirement saving; Welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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