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Should Public Retirement Pensions Be Means-tested?

Listed author(s):
  • Cagri Seda Kumru
  • John Piggott

The complex matrix of retirement policy trade-offs – encompassing elements of paternalism, market failure, and overlaying incentives in a life-cycle context – have received much attention in the literature. But the issue of whether publicly-funded retirement provision should be means-tested, and if so how, has received limited attention, although it has been highlighted from time to time. This paper examines the economic welfare effects of means testing using a stochastic overlapping generations model calibrated to the UK economy. A labor-leisure choice is incorporated, with multiple individuals differentiated by endowments of effective labor. Our results indicate that a change in the taper rate has implications for both welfare and economic aggregates. In particular, with a second tier pension in place, it is welfare improving to strictly means-test the first pillar. In contrast to much received wisdom, higher taper rates increase social welfare.

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File URL: http://degit.sam.sdu.dk/papers/degit_15/c015_049.pdf
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Paper provided by DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade in its series DEGIT Conference Papers with number c015_049.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c015_049
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  1. Neumark, David & Powers, Elizabeth, 1998. "The effect of means-tested income support for the elderly on pre-retirement saving: evidence from the SSI program in the U.S," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 181-206, May.
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  7. Alessandro Sommacal, 2006. "Pension systems and intragenenerational redistribution when labor supply is endogenous," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 379-406, July.
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  9. James Sefton & Justin vandeVen & Martin Weale, 2008. "Means Testing Retirement Benefits: fostering equity or discouraging savings?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 556-590, 04.
  10. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  11. Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Douglas H. Joines, 2000. "Time inconsistent preferences and Social Security," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 136, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  17. Richard Disney & Carl Emmerson & Matthew Wakefield, "undated". "Pension Provision and Retirement Saving: Lessons from the United Kingdom," Discussion Papers 07/01, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  18. David Neumark & Elizabeth Powers, 1998. "Welfare for the Elderly: The Effects of SSI on Pre-Retirement Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 6805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  20. R. Glenn Hubbard & Kenneth L. Judd, 1985. "Social Security and Individual Welfare: Precautionary Saving, LiquidityConstraints, and the Payroll Tax," NBER Working Papers 1736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Luisa Fuster & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Personal Security Accounts and Mandatory Annuitization in a Dynastic Framework," CESifo Working Paper Series 1405, CESifo Group Munich.
  23. Dr Justin van de Ven, 2009. "Optimal Design of Means Tested Retirement Benefits," NIESR Discussion Papers 332, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
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