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Welfare for the elderly: the effects of SSI on pre-retirement labor supply

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  • Neumark, David
  • Powers, Elizabeth

Abstract

The elderly are one of the exceptional groups in American society with access to a significant cash safety net, a means-tested program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Little attention has been paid to the pre-eligibility-age labor market disincentives created by such a program. In particular, asset and income limits might induce individuals nearing the eligibility age to work less. There is little if any hard evidence on such incentive effects. We exploit variation in states' supplementation of the federal SSI benefit to estimate the effects of the SSI program on pre-retirement labor supply, using data from the 1984, 1990, and 1991 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. We find some evidence that generous SSI benefits reduce the pre-retirement labor supply (and earnings) of men who are likely to participate in SSI after retirement as they near the eligibility age, especially that of men who have reached the age of eligibility for early Social Security benefits, which may be used to offset their reduced labor income.
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Suggested Citation

  • Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 2000. "Welfare for the elderly: the effects of SSI on pre-retirement labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 51-80, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:78:y:2000:i:1-2:p:51-80
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    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    2. Johnson, Richard W & Neumark, David, 1996. "Wage Declines among Older Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 740-748, November.
    3. Mitchell, Olivia S & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1996. "Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 363-367, May.
    4. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-399, April.
    5. Powers, Elizabeth T., 1998. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? evidence from a change in AFDC policy in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 33-53.
    6. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 672-694, November.
    7. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 1998. "The effect of means-tested income support for the elderly on pre-retirement saving: evidence from the SSI program in the U.S," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 181-206.
    8. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 1998. "The effect of means-tested income support for the elderly on pre-retirement saving: evidence from the SSI program in the U.S," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 181-206.
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    Cited by:

    1. Manasi Deshpande, 2016. "Does Welfare Inhibit Success? The Long-Term Effects of Removing Low-Income Youth from the Disability Rolls," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3300-3330, November.
    2. Bütler, Monika & Peijnenburg, Kim & Staubli, Stefan, 2017. "How much do means-tested benefits reduce the demand for annuities?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, pages 419-449.
    3. David Neumark & Elizabeth T. Powers, 2005. "The Effects of Changes in State SSI Supplements on Preretirement Labor Supply," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(1), pages 3-35, January.
    4. repec:mea:meawpa:12264 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:pubeco:v:149:y:2017:i:c:p:20-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Neumark, David & Cunningham, Wendy & Siga, Lucas, 2006. "The effects of the minimum wage in Brazil on the distribution of family incomes: 1996-2001," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 136-159.
    7. Susan Thorp & Hardy Hulley & Rebecca McKibbin & Andreas Pedersen, 2009. "Means-Tested Income Support, Portfolio Choice and Decumulation in Retirement," Research Paper Series 248, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
    8. Hardy Hulley & Rebecca Mckibbin & Andreas Pedersen & Susan Thorp, 2013. "Means-Tested Public Pensions, Portfolio Choice and Decumulation in Retirement," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(284), pages 31-51, March.
    9. Cagri Seda Kumru & John Piggott, 2010. "Should Public Retirement Pensions Be Means-tested?," DEGIT Conference Papers c015_049, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    10. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Ludwig, Alexander & Sommer, Mathias, 2005. "Aging and asset prices," Papers 07-29, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    11. Elizabeth Powers & David Neumark, 2001. "The Supplemental Security Income Program and Incentives to Take Up Social Security Early Retirement: Empirical Evidence from Matched SIPP and Social.," NBER Working Papers 8670, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Richard Johnson, 2000. "The effect of old-age insurance on male retirement : evidence from historical cross-country data," Research Working Paper RWP 00-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    13. Marchand, J. & Smeeding, T., 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
      • Marchand, Joseph & Smeeding, Timothy, 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Working Papers 2016-11, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 20 Nov 2016.
    14. Mark Duggan & Melissa S. Kearney & Stephanie Rennane, 2015. "The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program," NBER Working Papers 21209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Mark Duggan & Melissa S. Kearney & Stephanie Rennane, 2015. "The Supplemental Security Income Program," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, volume 2, pages 1-58 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth T., 2005. "SSI, Labor Supply, and Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 1820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Meyer, Bruce D. & Sullivan, James X., 2004. "The effects of welfare and tax reform: the material well-being of single mothers in the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1387-1420.
    18. Elizabeth T. Powers & David Neumark, 2003. "The Supplemental Security Income Program and Incentives to Claim Social Security Retirement Early: Empirical Evidence from Matched SIPP and Social Security Administrative Files," Working Papers wp036, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    19. John Piggott & Renuka Sane, 2011. "The Impact on Residential Choice of the Family Home Exemption in Resource-Tested Transfer Programs," Working Papers 201112, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales.
    20. David Neumark & Elizabeth Powers, 2006. "Supplemental security income, labor supply, and migration," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(3), pages 447-479, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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