IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Lessons for an aging society: the political sustainability of social security systems

  • GALASSO, Vincenzo
  • PROFETA, Paola

What is the future of social systems in OECD countries ? In our view, the answer belongs to the realm of politics. We evaluate how political constraints shape the social security system in six countries - France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US - under population aging. Two main aspects of the aging process are relevant to the analysis. First, the increase in the dependency ratio - the ratio of retirees of workers - reduces the average profitability of the unfunded social security system, thereby inducing the agents to reduce the size of the system by substituting their claims towards future pensions with more private savings. Second, an aging electorate leads to larger systems, since it increases the relevance of pension spending on the policy-makers' agenda. The overall assessment from our simulations is that the political aspect dominates in all countries, albeit with some differences. Spain, the fastest aging country, faces the largest increase in the social security contribution rate. When labor market considerations are introduced, the political effect still dominates, but it is less sizeable. Country specific characteristics (not accounted for in our simulations), such as the degree of redistribution in the pension system and the existence of family ties in the society, may also matter. Our simulations deliver a strong policy implication: an increase in the effective retirement age always decreases the size of the system chosen by the voters, while often increasing its generosity. Finally, delegation of pension policy to the EC may reduce political accountability and hence help to reform the systems.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2003077.

in new window

Date of creation: 00 Oct 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2003077
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Voie du Roman Pays 34, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium)

Phone: 32(10)474321
Fax: +32 10474304
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Gerontocracy, retirement, and social security," Economics Working Papers 383, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Peter Diamond, 2000. "Social Security Reform," 'Angelo Costa' Lectures Serie, SIPI Spa, issue Lect. I.
  3. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. "Reforming our pension system: Is it a demographic, financial or political problem?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 974-983, May.
  4. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
  5. Casamatta, Georges & Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. "Political sustainability and the design of social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 341-364, March.
  6. Vincenzo Galasso, 1999. "The US Social Security System: What Does Political Sustainability Imply?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 698-730, July.
  7. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, . "The Macroeconomics of Early Retirement," Working Papers 2003-05, FEDEA.
  8. D'Amato, Marcello & Galasso, Vincenzo, 2002. "Assessing the Political Sustainability of Parametric Social Security Reforms: The Case of Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 3439, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Browning, Edgar K, 1975. "Why the Social Insurance Budget Is Too Large in a Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(3), pages 373-88, September.
  10. Conde-Ruiz, J.I. & Galasso, V., 2000. "Early Retirement," Economics Working Papers eco2000/24, European University Institute.
  11. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1989. "Social Security as Trade among Living Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1182-95, December.
  12. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, . "What Social Security: Beveridgean or Bismarckian?," Working Papers 2003-16, FEDEA.
  13. Tito Boeri & Axel Boersch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Pension Reforms and the Opinions of European Citizens," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 396-401, May.
  14. Costa, Dora L., 1998. "The Evolution of Retirement," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226116082.
  15. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2003. "The Double Dividend of Postponing Retirement," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(4), pages 419-34, August.
  16. Sascha O. Becker & Samuel Bentolila & Ana Fernandes & Andrea Ichino, 2004. "Job Insecurity And Children'S Emancipation," Working Papers wp2004_04, CEMFI.
  17. Michele Boldrin & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Political Equilibria with Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 41-78, January.
  18. Thomas Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 731-755, July.
  19. Marco Manacorda & Enrico Moretti, 2002. "Intergenerational transfers and household structure: why do most Italian youths live with their parents?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20078, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  20. Galasso, Vincenzo & Profeta, Paola, 2002. "The political economy of social security: a survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-29, March.
  21. Azariadis, Costas & Galasso, Vincenzo, 2002. "Fiscal Constitutions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 255-281, April.
  22. Galasso, Vincenzo, 2000. "The US Social Security: A Financial Appraisal For The Median Voter," CEPR Discussion Papers 2456, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2003077. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Alain GILLIS)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.