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On the political sustainability of redistributive social insurance systems


  • CASAMATTA, Georges

    (GREMAQ, University of Toulouse & CREPP, University of Liege)

  • CREMER, Helmuth

    (GREMAQ and IDEI, University of Toulouse and Institut Universitaire de France)

  • PESTIEAU, Pierre

    (CREPP, University of Liege, CORE & Delta)


We consider social insurance schemes with a two-part benefit formula: a flat (constant) term and a variable term which is proportional to individuals' contributions. The factor of proportionality defines the type of social insurance. We adopt a two-stage political economy approach. At the first, constitutional stage, the type of social insurance is chosen "behind the veil of ignorance", according to the Rawlsian or the utilitarian criterion. At this stage, private insurance can also be prohibited or allowed. At the second stage, tax rate and benefit level are chosen by majority voting. Three main results emerge. First, it may be appropriate to adopt a system which is less redistributive than otherwise optimal, in order to ensure political support for an adequate level of coverage in the second stage. Second, supplementary private insurance may increase the welfare of the poor, even if it is effectively bought only by the rich. Third, the case for prohibiting (supplementary) private insurance may become stronger when the efficiency of private insurance markets increases.

Suggested Citation

  • CASAMATTA, Georges & CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1998. "On the political sustainability of redistributive social insurance systems," CORE Discussion Papers 1998038, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:1998038

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gouyette, Claudine & Pestieau, Pierre, 1999. "Efficiency of the Welfare State," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 537-553.
    2. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1998. "Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems," NBER Chapters,in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 403-456 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1996. "Public Provision of Private Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 57-84, February.
    4. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434-434.
    5. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 1998. "Social insurance, majority voting and labor mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 397-420, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rainald Borck, 2007. "On the Choice of Public Pensions when Income and Life Expectancy Are Correlated," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(4), pages 711-725, August.
    2. DOCQUIER, Frédéric & PADDISON, Oliver, 2000. "Growth and equality effects of pension plans," CORE Discussion Papers 2000036, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. BURGGRAEVE Koen & DU CAJU Philip, "undated". "How Do Reference Values for Wages and Wage Indexing Influence the Impact of Labour Tax Reductions?," EcoMod2003 330700028, EcoMod.
    4. Karl Ove Moene & Michael Wallerstein, 2001. "Targeting and political support for welfare spending," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 3-24, March.
    5. Francisco M. Lagos & Juan Antonio Lacomba, 2001. "Election On Retirement Age," Working Papers. Serie AD 2001-09, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    6. Anderberg, Dan, 1999. "Determining the mix of public and private provision of insurance by majority rule," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 417-440, September.
    7. John Hall & Ian Preston, 1998. "Public and private choice in UK health insurance," IFS Working Papers W98/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    8. Koen Burggraeve & Philip Du Caju, 2003. "Reductions in employers' social security contributions in a wage norm and automatic indexing régime," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 46(4), pages 31-64.
    9. Francisco M. Lagos & Juan Antonio Lacomba, 2000. "- Social Security And Political Election In Retirement Age," Working Papers. Serie AD 2000-11, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

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