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Old, sick, alone, and poor: a welfare analysis of old-age social insurance programs

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  • R. Anton Braun
  • Karen A. Kopecky
  • Tatyana Koreshkova

Abstract

Poor health, large acute and long-term care medical expenses, and spousal death are significant drivers of impoverishment among retirees. We document these facts and build a rich, overlapping generations model that reproduces them. We use the model to assess the incentive and welfare effects of Social Security and means-tested social insurance programs such as Medicaid and food stamp programs, for the aged. We find that U.S. means-tested social insurance programs for retirees provide significant welfare benefits for all newborn. Moreover, when means-tested social insurance benefits are of the scale in the United States, all individuals would prefer to be born into an economy with no Social Security. Finally, we find that the benefits of increasing means-tested social insurance are small or negative, if we hold fixed Social Security contributions and benefits at their current levels

Suggested Citation

  • R. Anton Braun & Karen A. Kopecky & Tatyana Koreshkova, 2013. "Old, sick, alone, and poor: a welfare analysis of old-age social insurance programs," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2013-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2013-02
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    Cited by:

    1. Guner, Nezih & Kulikova, Yuliya & Llull, Joan, 2018. "Marriage and health: Selection, protection, and assortative mating," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 138-166.
    2. Felix Wellschmied, 2021. "The welfare effects of asset mean‐testing income support," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 12(1), pages 217-249, January.
    3. Eric French & John Bailey Jones & Elaine Kelly & Jeremy McCauley, 2018. "End-of-Life Medical Expenses," Working Paper 18-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    4. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2016. "Savings After Retirement: A Survey," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 177-204, October.
    5. , 2020. "Why Does Consumption Fluctuate in Old Age and How Should the Government Insure it?," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 40, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. R. Anton Braun & Karen A. Kopecky & Tatyana Koreshkova, 2017. "Old, Frail, and Uninsured: Accounting for Puzzles in the U.S. Long-Term Care Insurance Market," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2017-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    7. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2016. "Medicaid Insurance in Old Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3480-3520, November.
    8. Eric French & Elaine Kelly & Mariacristina Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones & Jeremy McCauley, 2016. "Medical Spending of the US Elderly," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 717-747, September.
    9. Richard Blundell & Jack Britton & Monica Costa Dias & Eric French, 2017. "The impact of health on labour supply near retirement," IFS Working Papers W17/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    10. Cormac O'Dea, 2018. "Insurance, Efficiency and the Design of Public Pensions," 2018 Meeting Papers 1037, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Jones, John Bailey & Li, Yue, 2018. "The effects of collecting income taxes on Social Security benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 128-145.
    12. William B. Peterman & Kamila Sommer, 2014. "How Well Did Social Security Mitigate the Effects of the Great Recession?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-13, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    13. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones & Rory McGee, 2021. "Why Do Couples and Singles Save During Retirement?," Richmond Fed Economic Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 21(09), pages 1-65, May.
    14. Lee, Hyun & Zhao, Kai & Zou, Fei, 2022. "Does the early retirement policy really benefit women?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 330-345.
    15. FUKAI Taiyo & ICHIMURA Hidehiko & KITAO Sagiri & MIKOSHIBA Minamo, 2021. "Medical Expenditures over the Life Cycle: Persistent Risks and Insurance," Discussion papers 21073, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    16. Guner, Nezih & Kulikova, Yuliya & Llull, Joan, 2018. "Reprint of: Marriage and health: Selection, protection, and assortative mating," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 162-190.
    17. Vegard M. Nygaard & Gajendran Raveendranathan, 2021. "The impact of U.S. employer-sponsored insurance in the 20th century," Department of Economics Working Papers 2021-11, McMaster University.
    18. Tatyana Koreshkova & Karen Kopecky & R. Anton Braun, 2016. "Accounting for Low Take-up Rates and High Rejection Rates in the U.S. Long-Term Care Insurance Market," 2016 Meeting Papers 515, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Kudrna, George & Tran, Chung & Woodland, Alan, 2022. "Sustainable and equitable pensions with means testing in aging economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    20. Matthew Shapiro & Joseph Briggs & Chris Tonetti & Andrew Caplin & John Ameriks, 2016. "Late-in-Life Risks and the Under-Insurance Puzzle," 2016 Meeting Papers 241, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. R. Anton Braun & Douglas H. Joines, 2014. "The Implications of a graying japan for government policy," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2014-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    22. Anne Villamil & Zhigang Feng, 2017. "Regressive Subsidy to EHI and Entrepreneurial Talent Allocation," 2017 Meeting Papers 1059, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    23. John Ameriks & Joseph Briggs & Andrew Caplin & Matthew D. Shapiro & Christopher Tonetti, 2016. "The Long-Term-Care Insurance Puzzle: Modeling and Measurement," NBER Working Papers 22726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Achou, Bertrand, 2021. "Housing liquidity and long-term care insurance demand: A quantitative evaluation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    25. David Chivers & Zhigang Feng & Anne Villamil, 2017. "Employment-based Health Insurance and Misallocation: Implications for the Macroeconomy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 23, pages 125-149, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Security; Medicaid; social insurance; elderly; medical expenses;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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