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The Distributional Effects of an Investment-Based Social Security System

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  • Martin Feldstein
  • Jeffrey B Liebman

Abstract

In this paper we study the distributional impact of a change from the existing pay-as-you-go Social Security system to one that combines both pay-as-you-go and investment-based elements. Such a transition can avert the large tax increases that would otherwise be necessary to maintain the level of benefits promised under current law as life expectancy increases. According to the Social Security actuaries (Board of Trustees, 1999), retaining the existing pay-as-you-go system would eventually require raising the current 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax rate to about 19 percent to maintain the current benefit rules or cutting benefits by more than one-third in order to avoid a tax increase. In contrast, previous research showed that adding an investment-based component with savings equal to two percent of covered earnings to the existing 12.4 percent pay-as-you-go system would be sufficient to maintain the benefits promised under current rules without any increase in tax rates (Feldstein and Samwick 1997, 1998a, 1998b).

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B Liebman, 2002. "The Distributional Effects of an Investment-Based Social Security System," Working Papers 02-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:02-08
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feldstein, Martin, 1996. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 1-14, May.
    2. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "Social Security Reform and National Saving in an Era of Budget Surpluses," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 1-72.
    3. Coronado Julia Lynn & Fullerton Don & Glass Thomas, 2011. "The Progressivity of Social Security," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-45, November.
    4. Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Lawrence J. & Puffert, Douglas J. & Shoven, John B., 1986. "Social Security: A Financial Appraisal Across and Within Generations," CEPR Publications 244432, Stanford University, Center for Economic Policy Research.
    5. Peter Diamond, 2004. "Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 1-24, March.
    6. Michael D. Hurd & John B. Shoven, 1985. "The Distributional Impact of Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 193-222 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2000. "Social Security Benefits of Immigrants and U.S. Born," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 309-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1997. "The Economics of Prefunding Social Security and Medicare Benefits," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 115-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Lee, Ronald & Tuljapurkar, Shripad, 1998. "Uncertain Demographic Futures and Social Security Finances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 237-241, May.
    10. Fred T. Goldberg, Jr. & Michael J. Graetz, 1999. "Reforming Social Security: A Practical and Workable System of Personal Retirement Accounts," NBER Working Papers 6970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    12. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 1998. "Individual Risk and Intergenerational Risk Sharing in an Investment-Based Social Security Program," NBER Working Papers 6839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Poterba, James M., 1998. "The rate of return to corporate capital and factor shares: new estimates using revised national income accounts and capital stock data," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, pages 211-246.
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    Cited by:

    1. Afonso, Luís Eduardo & Fernandes, Reynaldo, 2005. "Uma Estimativa dos Aspectos Distributivos da Previdência Social no Brasil," Revista Brasileira de Economia - RBE, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), vol. 59(3), July.
    2. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Redistribution in the Current U.S. Social Security System," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 11-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jimeno, Juan F. & Rojas, Juan A. & Puente, Sergio, 2008. "Modelling the impact of aging on social security expenditures," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 201-224, March.
    4. Casarico, Alessandra & Devillanova, Carlo, 2008. "Capital-skill complementarity and the redistributive effects of Social Security Reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 672-683, April.
    5. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2003. "Redistribution and Insurance: Mandatory Annuitization With Mortality Heterogeneity," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 70(1), pages 17-41.
    6. Binswanger, Johannes, 2007. "Risk management of pensions from the perspective of loss aversion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 641-667, April.
    7. Aruoba, S. Boragan & Fernandez-Villaverde, Jesus & Rubio-Ramirez, Juan F., 2006. "Comparing solution methods for dynamic equilibrium economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 2477-2508, December.
    8. Juan F. Jimeno, "undated". "Incentivos y desigualdad en el sistema español de pensiones contributivas de jubilación," Working Papers 2002-13, FEDEA.
    9. Arza, Camila, 2008. "The Limits of Pension Privatization: Lessons from Argentine Experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2696-2712, December.
    10. Lyon, Andrew B. & Stell, John L., 2000. "Analysis of Current Social Security Reform Proposals," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 3), pages 473-514, September.
    11. Pfau, Wade Donald, 2007. "Reforming Social Security: Issues and Challenges for Personal Retirement Accounts," MPRA Paper 19034, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "Targeted savings and labor supply," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(5), pages 507-518, October.
    13. Andrew Coleman, 2014. "The growth, equity, and risk implications of different retirement income policies," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 226-239, August.
    14. Gustman, Alan L. & Steinmeier, Thomas L., 2001. "How effective is redistribution under the social security benefit formula?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-28, October.
    15. Dennis Fredriksen & Nils Martin Stølen, 2005. "Effects of demographic development, labour supply and pension reforms on the future pension burden," Discussion Papers 418, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    16. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "Social Security Reform and National Saving in an Era of Budget Surpluses," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 1-72.
    17. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Jeffrey B. Liebman & David W. Wilcox, 2001. "Fiscal Policy and Social Security Policy During the 1990s," NBER Working Papers 8488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Martin Feldstein, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 33-55, Spring.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    CES; economic; research; micro; data; microdata; chief; economist;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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