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Retirement Savings in an Aging Society: A Case for Innovative Government Debt Management

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  • Henning Bohn

Abstract

Aging societies will have to rely increasingly on private savings to finance retirement. The natural savings vehicles, stocks and bonds, are unfortunately lacking key risk-sharing features that are built into public retirement. Innovative government debt management can address this problem. The optimal policy supplies retirees with securities that share the financial risks of aggregate productivity, asset valuation, and demographic shocks across generations. As the population ages, state-contingent government bonds are a better risk sharing tools than pensions, which become too costly, or taxation, which raises time-consistency problems. Wage-indexed and longevity-indexed bonds in particular yield unambiguous efficiency improvements. To the extent that public pensions remain important, plans with wage-indexed defined benefits seem preferable to defined contributions or price-indexed plans. Capital income taxes and pension trust funds can play a supporting role for risk sharing.

Suggested Citation

  • Henning Bohn, 2001. "Retirement Savings in an Aging Society: A Case for Innovative Government Debt Management," CESifo Working Paper Series 494, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_494
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Campbell, John Y. & Nosbusch, Yves, 2007. "Intergenerational risksharing and equilibrium asset prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2251-2268, November.
    2. John Geanakoplos & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2009. "Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 73-121 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. John Sabelhaus & Julie Topoleski, 2007. "Uncertain policy for an uncertain world: The case of social security," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 507-525.

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