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On the optimal design of pension systems

  • Hans Fehr


  • Johannes Uhde

The present paper aims to quantify efficiency properties of flat and earnings-related pay-as-you-go financed social security systems of various institutional designs in order to identify an optimal pension design. Starting from a benchmark economy without social security, we introduce alternative pension systems and compare the costs arising from liquidity constraints as well as distortions of labor supply versus the benefits from insurance provision against income and lifespan uncertainty. Our findings suggest an optimal replacement rate of about 50 % of average earnings. In our model a single-tier earnings-related pension system yields the highest efficiency gains dominating flat benefits as well as two-tier systems of any form. We also show that the negative correlation between pension progressivity and pension generosity of real-world social security systems can be justified on efficiency grounds. Finally, our results indicate a positive impact of means-testing flat benefits against earnings-related benefits within multi-pillar pension systems. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

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Article provided by Springer & Austrian Institute for Economic Research & Austrian Economic Association in its journal Empirica.

Volume (Year): 40 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 457-482

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Handle: RePEc:kap:empiri:v:40:y:2013:i:3:p:457-482
DOI: 10.1007/s10663-013-9214-2
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  1. G. Abío & Geraldine Mahieu & Cio Patxot, 2003. "On the Optimality of PAYG Pension Systems in an Endogenous Fertility Setting," CESifo Working Paper Series 1050, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-86, April.
  3. Marko Koethenbuerger & Panu Poutvaara & Paola Profeta, 2008. "Why are more redistributive social security systems smaller? A median voter approach," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 275-292, April.
  4. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, 2007. "The Redistributive Design of Social Security Systems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 686-712, 04.
  5. Hans Fehr & Christian Habermann, 2005. "Risk Sharing and Efficiency Implications of Progressive Pension Arrangements," DNB Working Papers 064, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  6. CREMER, Helmuth & LOZACHMEUR, Jean-Marie & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Social desirability of earnings tests," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2012, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Hans Fehr, 2009. "Computable Stochastic Equilibrium Models and Their Use in Pension- and Ageing Research," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(4), pages 359-416, December.
  8. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura, 1999. "On the Distributional Effects of Social Security Reform," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 498-531, July.
  9. Egil Matsen & Øystein Thøgersen, 2000. "Designing Social Security – A Portfolio Choice Approach," Working Paper Series 1102, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  10. Simonovits, Andr S, 2003. "Designing optimal linear rules for flexible retirement," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 273-293, November.
  11. Hans Fehr & Christian Habermann & Fabian Kindermann, 2006. "Social Security with Rational and Hyperbolic Consumers," Working Papers 010, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  12. Kallweit, Manuel & Fehr, Hans & Kindermann, Fabian, 2011. "Should pensions be progressive? Yes, at least in Germany!," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48708, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  13. Kudrna, George & Woodland, Alan, 2011. "An inter-temporal general equilibrium analysis of the Australian age pension means test," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 61-79, March.
  14. Pok-sang Lam & Stephen G. Cecchetti & Nelson C. Mark, 2000. "Asset Pricing with Distorted Beliefs: Are Equity Returns Too Good to Be True?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 787-805, September.
  15. András Simonovits, 2006. "Optimal Design of Pension Rule with Flexible Retirement: The Two-Type Case," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 197-222, December.
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