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It's the Prices, Stupid: The Underlying Problems of the U.S. Social Security System


  • Yavuz Yaşar


At the center of the on-going debate about the U.S. Social Security system is the question of whether the way the system is financed can cope with the future challenges posed by the retiring Baby Boom generation. The "reformers" suggest changing the design of the system by moving to fully funded defined contribution retirement plans. Others argue that the so-called demographic problems are being used as an excuse to privatize the system. But both sides spend almost all of their energy and time figuring out the timing of insolvency of the system and the validity of the assumptions made in each forecast. In contrast, the present study closely examines the changing macroeconomic dynamics of the system since the 1960s. The analysis shows that undermining of the system is caused not by demographic changes or financing mechanisms but by low wages and medical inflation.

Suggested Citation

  • Yavuz Yaşar, 2009. "It's the Prices, Stupid: The Underlying Problems of the U.S. Social Security System," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 843-865.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:43:y:2009:i:4:p:843-865
    DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624430402

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