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The Spirit of the Welfare State? Adaptation in the Demand for Social Insurance

  • Martin Ljunge

Young generations demand substantially more social insurance than older generations, although program rules have been constant for decades. I postulate a model in which the utility of claiming social insurance benefits depends on older generations' past behavior. The intertemporal mechanism estimated can account for half of the younger generations' higher demand for social insurance benefits. Instrumenting for older generations' behavior using mortality rates reveals an even stronger influence of reference group behavior on individual demand. The analysis suggests that behavioral responses estimated by natural experiments could strongly underestimate the true long-run elasticities relevant for the fiscal sustainability of the welfare state.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Human Capital.

Volume (Year): 6 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 187 - 223

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:doi:10.1086/667723
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