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Welfare and generational equity in sustainable unfunded pension systems

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  • Auerbach, Alan J.
  • Lee, Ronald

Abstract

Using stochastic simulations we analyze how public pension structures spread the risks arising from demographic and economic shocks across generations. We consider several actual and hypothetical sustainable PAYGO pension structures, including: (1) versions of the US Social Security system with annual adjustments of taxes or benefits to maintain fiscal balance; (2) Sweden's Notional Defined Contribution system and several variants developed to improve fiscal stability; and (3) the German system, which also includes annual adjustments to maintain fiscal balance. For each system, we present descriptive measures of uncertainty in representative outcomes for a typical generation and across generations. We then estimate expected utility for generations based on simplifying assumptions and incorporate these expected utility calculations in an overall social welfare measure. Using a horizontal equity index, we also compare the different systems' performance in terms of how neighboring generations are treated. While the actual Swedish system smoothes stochastic fluctuations more than any other and produces the highest degree of horizontal equity, it does so by accumulating a buffer stock of assets that alleviates the need for frequent adjustments. In terms of social welfare, this accumulation of assets leads to a lower average rate of return that more than offsets the benefits of risk reduction, leaving systems with more frequent adjustments that spread risks broadly among generations as those most preferred.

Suggested Citation

  • Auerbach, Alan J. & Lee, Ronald, 2011. "Welfare and generational equity in sustainable unfunded pension systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-2), pages 16-27, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:1-2:p:16-27
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    1. Ronald Lee & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 1998. "Stochastic Forecasts for Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 393-428 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Xavier Chojnicki & Riccardo Magnani, 2012. "Réforme des retraites en France : évaluation de la mise en place d'un système par comptes notionnels," Economie & Prévision, La Documentation Française, vol. 0(2), pages 69-90.
    2. Lassila, Jukka, 2018. "Aggregate risks, intergenerational risk-sharing and fiscal sustainability in the Finnish earnings-related pension system," ETLA Working Papers 57, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    3. Hagen, Johannes, 2013. "A History of the Swedish Pension System," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2013:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    4. Alan Auerbach & Lorenz Kueng & Ronald Lee, 2013. "Propagation and Smoothing of Shocks in Alternative Social Security Systems," NBER Working Papers 19137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alexander Ludwig & Michael Reiter, 2010. "Sharing Demographic Risk--Who Is Afraid of the Baby Bust?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 83-118, November.
    6. Elizabeth Horner, 2014. "Subjective Well-Being and Retirement: Analysis and Policy Recommendations," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 125-144, February.
    7. Akira Okamoto, 2013. "Welfare Analysis of Pension Reforms in an Ageing Japan," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 452-483, December.
    8. Akira Okamoto, 2013. "Simulating Public Pension Reforms in an Aging Japan: Welfare Analysis with LSRA Transfers," Public Policy Review, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan, vol. 9(4), pages 597-632, September.
    9. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_311 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Alexander Ludwig & Michael Reiter, 2008. "Sharing Demographic Risk – Who is Afraid of the Baby Bust?," MEA discussion paper series 08166, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    11. Palmer, Edward, 2011. "Generic NDC - Equilibrium, Valuation and Risk Sharing with and without NDC Bonds," Working Paper Series 2011:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    12. Nisticò, Sergio & Bevilacqua, Mirko, 2013. "Notional defined contribution (NDC) pension schemes and income patterns," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 7, pages 1-24.
    13. Alfonso R. Sánchez, 2014. "The automatic adjustment of pension expenditures in Spain:an evaluation of the 2013 pension reform," Working Papers 1420, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    14. Jan Bonenkamp & Lex Meijdam & Eduard Ponds & Ed Westerhout, 2017. "Ageing-driven pension reforms," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(3), pages 953-976, July.
    15. Metzger, Christoph, 2016. "The German statutory pension scheme: Balance sheet, cross-sectional internal rates of return and implicit tax rates," FZG Discussion Papers 63, University of Freiburg, Research Center for Generational Contracts (FZG).
    16. George Economides & Hyun Park & Apostolis Philippopoulos & Stelios Sakkas, 2015. "On the Composition of Public Spending and Taxes," CESifo Working Paper Series 5510, CESifo Group Munich.
    17. Alonso-García, J. & Devolder, P., 2016. "Optimal mix between pay-as-you-go and funding for DC pension schemes in an overlapping generations model," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 224-236.
    18. Riccardo Magnani, 2016. "Is an Increase in the Minimum Retirement Age Always Desirable? The Case of Notional Defined Contribution Systems," Post-Print hal-01362459, HAL.
    19. Knell, Markus, 2013. "The Intergenerational Distribution of Demographic Fluctuations in Unfunded and Funded Pension Systems," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79830, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    20. Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Andrew A. Samwick, 2015. "The Welfare Cost of Perceived Policy Uncertainty: Evidence from Social Security," NBER Working Papers 21818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pensions PAYGO Social security;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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