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Policy Uncertainty and the Cost of Delaying Reform: A case of aging Japan

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  • KITAO Sagiri

Abstract

In an economy with aging demographics and a generous pay-as-you-go social security system established decades ago, reform to reduce benefits is inevitable unless there is a major increase in taxes. Often times, however, there is uncertainty about the timing and structure of reform. This paper explicitly models policy uncertainty associated with a social security system in an aging economy and quantifies economic and welfare effects of uncertainty as well as costs of delaying reform. Using the case of Japan, which faces the severest demographic and fiscal challenges, we show that uncertainty can significantly affect economic activities and welfare. Delaying reform or reducing its scope involves a sizeable welfare tradeoff across generations, in which middle to old-aged individuals gain the most at the cost of young and future generations.

Suggested Citation

  • KITAO Sagiri, 2016. "Policy Uncertainty and the Cost of Delaying Reform: A case of aging Japan," Discussion papers 16013, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  • Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:16013
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    File URL: https://www.rieti.go.jp/jp/publications/dp/16e013.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Huixin Bi & Eric M. Leeper & Campbell Leith, 2013. "Uncertain Fiscal Consolidations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 31-63, February.
    2. Kitao, Sagiri, 2015. "Pension reform and individual retirement accounts in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 111-126.
    3. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "The 1990s in Japan: a lost decade," Chapters,in: The Economics of an Ageing Population, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Auerbach, Alan J & Hassett, Kevin A, 2002. "Fiscal Policy and Uncertainty," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 229-249, Summer.
    5. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2007. "Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1677-1719.
    6. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis, 2016. "Measuring Economic Policy Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1593-1636.
    7. Gary Hansen & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2016. "Fiscal Reform and Government Debt in Japan: A Neoclassical Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 21, pages 201-224, July.
    8. Selahattin ─░mrohoro─člu & Sagiri Kitao & Tomoaki Yamada, 2017. "Can Guest Workers Solve Japan'S Fiscal Problems?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1287-1307, July.
    9. Auerbach, Alan J. & Hassett, Kevin, 2007. "Optimal long-run fiscal policy: Constraints, preferences and the resolution of uncertainty," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 1451-1472, May.
    10. Sagiri Kitao, 2014. "Sustainable Social Security: Four Options," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 756-779, October.
    11. Kitao, Sagiri, 2015. "Fiscal cost of demographic transition in Japan," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 37-58.
    12. Attanasio, Orazio & Kitao, Sagiri & Violante, Giovanni L., 2007. "Global demographic trends and social security reform," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 144-198, January.
    13. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Sagiri Kitao, 2012. "Social Security Reforms: Benefit Claiming, Labor Force Participation, and Long-Run Sustainability," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 96-127, July.
    14. Frank N. Caliendo & Aspen Gorry & Sita Slavov, 2015. "The Cost of Uncertainty about the Timing of Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 21585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
    16. Braun, R. Anton & Joines, Douglas H., 2015. "The implications of a graying Japan for government policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-23.
    17. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 1999. "Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 757-795, October.
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    1. Policy Uncertainty and the Cost of Delaying Reform: A case of aging Japan
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2016-02-25 21:03:19

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    Cited by:

    1. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2017. "Impact of Policy Uncertainty on Consumption and Saving Behavior: Evidence from a survey on consumers," Discussion papers 17075, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. Sagiri Kitao, 2017. "When do we Start? Pension reform in ageing Japan," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 68(1), pages 26-47, March.
    3. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2016. "How Uncertain Are Economic Policies? Evidence from a survey on Japanese firms," Policy Discussion Papers 16008, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    4. Morikawa, Masayuki, 2016. "How uncertain are economic policies? New evidence from a firm survey," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 114-122.

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