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Social Security: Universal vs. Earnings-Dependent Benefits

  • Jorge Soares

    ()

    (Department of Economics,University of Delaware)

I compare the welfare implications of implementing Bismarckian and Beveridgean social security systems. In an overlapping generations environment with intragenerational homogeneity, agents can be better off with a system with universal benefits than with a comparable system with earnings-dependent benefits because the latter generates a stronger decrease in net wages. Once I allow for intragenerational skill heterogeneity, agents are on average better off with the more redistributive universal benefits system. I then let agents vote for the replacement rates in a democratic process. In the absence of intragenerational heterogeneity, a larger social security system is implemented when benefits are earnings-dependent than when they are universal resulting in a larger decrease in net wages; this makes young agents worse o¤ with earnings-dependent benefits. In the presence of intragenerational skill heterogeneity, the reverse occurs and agents fare on average better in the long-run when benefits are earnings-dependent. However, because of its redistributional effects, agents born at the time of implementation are on average better o¤ with an universal benefits system.

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File URL: http://graduate.lerner.udel.edu/sites/default/files/ECON/PDFs/RePEc/dlw/WorkingPapers/2011/UDWP2011-14.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Delaware, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 11-14.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in Economica
Handle: RePEc:dlw:wpaper:11-14.
Contact details of provider: Postal: Purnell Hall, Newark, Delaware 19716
Phone: (302) 831-2565
Fax: (302) 831-6968
Web page: http://www.lerner.udel.edu/departments/economics/department-economics/

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  1. Casamatta, Georges & Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. " The Political Economy of Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 503-22, June.
  2. Boadway, Robin W & Wildasin, David E, 1989. "A Median Voter Model of Social Security," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(2), pages 307-28, May.
  3. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, 2007. "The Redistributive Design of Social Security Systems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 686-712, 04.
  4. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
  5. Koethenbuerger, Marko & Poutvaara, Panu & Profeta, Paola, 2005. "Why Are More Redistributive Social Security Systems Smaller? A Median Voter Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 1831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. CASAMATTA, Georges & CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Political sustainability and the design of social insurance," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1449, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Zhang, Jie & Zhang, Junsen, 2003. "Long-run effects of unfunded social security with earnings-dependent benefits," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 617-641, December.
  8. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
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