IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Junior must pay: pricing the implicit put in privatizing Social Security

  • G. M. Constantinides


  • J. B. Donaldson


  • R. Mehra


Proposals that a portion of the Social Security Trust Fund assets be invested in equities entail the possibility that a severe decline in equity prices will render the Fund’s assets insufficient to provide the currently mandated level of benefits. In this event, existing taxpayers may be compelled to act as insurers of last resort. The cost to taxpayers of such an implicit commitment equals the value of a put option with payoff equal to the benefit’s shortfall. We calibrate an OLG model that generates realistic equity premia and value the put. With 20 percent of the Fund’s assets invested in equities, the highest level currently under serious discussion, we value a put that guarantees the currently mandated level of benefits at one percent of GDP, or a temporary increase in Social Security taxation of, at most, 20 percent. We value a put that guarantees 90 percent of benefits at .03 percent of GDP. In contrast to the earlier literature, our results account for the significant changes in the distribution of security returns resulting from Trust Fund purchases. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Annals of Finance.

Volume (Year): 1 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 1-34

in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:annfin:v:1:y:2005:i:1:p:1-34
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  2. Andrew B. Abel, . "The Effects of Investing Social Security Funds in the Stock Market When Fixed Costs Prevent Some Households from Holding Stocks," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 9-00, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 1999. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security when Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 7016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Y. Campbell & Joao F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascala J. Maenhout, 2000. "Investing Retirement Wealth? A Life-Cycle Model," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1896, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Mankiw, N.G. & Zeldes, S.P., 1990. "The Consumption Of Stockholders And Non-Stockholders," Weiss Center Working Papers 23-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  6. George M. Constantinides & John B. Donaldson & Rajnish Mehra, . "Junior Can't borrow: A New Perspective on the Equity Premium Puzzle."," CRSP working papers 457, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  7. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2001. "Is the Stock Market Overvalued?," NBER Working Papers 8077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Andrew B. Abel, 2002. "The effects of a baby boom on stock prices and capital accumulation in the presence of Social Security," Working Papers 03-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. Rajnish Mehra, 2003. "The Equity Premium: Why is it a Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 9512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1997. "The Economics of Prefunding Social Security and Medicare Benefits," NBER Working Papers 6055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 2003. "The equity premium in retrospect," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, in: G.M. Constantinides & M. Harris & R. M. Stulz (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Finance, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 889-938 Elsevier.
  12. John Y. Campbell & Martin Feldstein, 2001. "Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number camp01-1, July.
  13. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Smetters, Kent A & Walliser, Jan, 1998. "Social Security: Privatization and Progressivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 137-41, May.
  14. Kent Smetters, 2001. "The Effect of Pay-When-Needed Benefit Guarantees on the Impact of Social Security Privatization," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 91-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1996. "Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Bohn, Henning, 1998. "Risk Sharing in a Stochastic Overlapping Generations Economy," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt9r2809f0, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  17. repec:fth:calaec:4-98 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Mehra, Rajnish, 1988. "On the Existence and Representation of Equilibrium in an Economy with Growth and Nonstationary Consumption," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(1), pages 131-35, February.
  19. Henning Bohn, 1999. "Online Appendix to Should the Social Security Trust Fund hold Equities? An Intergenerational Welfare Analysis," Technical Appendices bohn99, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  20. Henning Bohn, 1997. "Social Security reform and financial markets," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 41(Jun), pages 193-227.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:annfin:v:1:y:2005:i:1:p:1-34. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.