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Improving the Equity-Efficiency Trade-Off: Mandatory Savings Accounts for Social Insurance


  • A. Lans Bovenberg


  • Peter Birch Sørensen



In the modern welfare state a substantial part of an individual's tax bill is transferred back to the same individual taxpayer in the form of social transfers. This provides a rationale for financing part of social insurance through mandatory savings accounts. We analyze the behavioral and welfare effects of compulsory savings accounts in an intertemporal model with uncertainty, involuntary unemployment, endogenous retirement decisions, credit constraints, and heterogeneous agents. We show that the introduction of (early) retirement and unemployment accounts generates a Pareto improvement by enabling the government to provide lifetime income insurance and liquidity insurance in a more efficient manner.

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  • A. Lans Bovenberg & Peter Birch Sørensen, 2004. "Improving the Equity-Efficiency Trade-Off: Mandatory Savings Accounts for Social Insurance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 11(4), pages 507-529, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:11:y:2004:i:4:p:507-529

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stiglitz, Joseph E. & Yun, Jungyoll, 2005. "Integration of unemployment insurance with retirement insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2037-2067, December.
    2. Brunner, Johann K., 1996. "Transition from a pay-as-you-go to a fully funded pension system: The case of differing individuals and intragenerational fairness," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 131-146, April.
    3. Pascal Belan & Pierre Pestieau, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security: A Critical Assessment," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 24(1), pages 114-130, January.
    4. Homburg, Stefan, 1990. "The Efficiency of Unfunded Pension Schemes," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 640-647.
    5. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2000. "Why a Funded Pension System is Useful and Why It is Not Useful," Munich Reprints in Economics 19859, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    6. Orszag, Mike & Snower, Dennis J., 1997. "Expanding the Welfare System: A Proposal for Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 1674, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Martin Feldstein & Daniel Altman, 2007. "Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21, pages 35-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Mark V. Pauly, 1974. "Overinsurance and Public Provision of Insurance: The Roles of Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 44-62.
    9. Fölster, Stefan & Gidehag, Robert & Orszag, Mike & Snower, Dennis J., 2002. "Assessing Welfare Accounts," CEPR Discussion Papers 3479, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    11. Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-264.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Alessio J.G. & Orszag, J. Michael & Snower, Dennis J., 2008. "Unemployment accounts and employment incentives," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 587-604, September.
    2. A. Lans Bovenberg & Peter Birch Sørensen, "undated". "Optimal Taxation and Social Insurance in a Lifetime Perspective," EPRU Working Paper Series 06-01, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    3. Peter Birch Sørensen, 2015. "Reforming Public Service Provision: What have we learned?," EPRU Working Paper Series 2015-01, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Bovenberg, A.L. & Hansen, M. & Sorensen, P.B., 2008. "Individual savings accounts for social insurance : Rationale and alternative designs," Other publications TiSEM 72e236b0-ad63-4bea-a314-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Egbert Jongen, 2009. "An analysis of individual accounts for the unemployment risk in the Netherlands," CPB Document 186, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    6. Ruud de Mooij, 2004. "Towards efficient unemployment insurance in the Netherlands," CPB Memorandum 100, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Peter Birch Sørensen & Martin Ino Hansen & A. Lans Bovenberg, 2006. "Savings Accounts and the Life-Cycle Approach to Social Insurance," EPRU Working Paper Series 06-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

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