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Optimal fiscal policy in the design of Social Security reforms

  • Juan Carlos Conesa
  • Carlos Garriga

The quantitative macroeconomics literature has documented that in the basic Overlapping Generations model a privatization of the social security system, going from a Pay-As-You-Go to a Fully Funded system, generates large long run welfare gains at the cost of substantial welfare losses for initial generations. We propose an alternative to previous literature. In this paper we maximize over the entire policy space, following the optimal fiscal policy approach, rather than comparing alternative policy paths one to one. That is, policies are chosen as part of the optimal design of a social security privatization in a Pareto improving way. The government decides endogenously how to finance the implicit social security liabilities and compensate the initial generations alive during the transition. In contrast with previous analysis the resulting allocation, by construction, lies on the constrained Pareto frontier. We find that the optimal design of reforms exhibits sizeable welfare gains, arising because of the reduction in labor supply distortions. In contrast, the welfare gains coming from the reduction of savings distortions are relatively small.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2007-035.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Publication status: Published in International Economic Review, February 2008, 49(1), pp. 291-318
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2007-035
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  1. Boldrin, Michele & Montes, Ana, 2002. "The Intergenerational State: Education and Pensions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3275, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Gale, David, 1973. "Pure exchange equilibrium of dynamic economic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 12-36, February.
  3. Krueger, Dirk & Kübler, Felix, 2005. "Pareto Improving Social Security Reform when Financial Markets Are Incomplete," CEPR Discussion Papers 5039, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Kitao, Sagiri & Krueger, Dirk, 2006. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea After All!," CEPR Discussion Papers 5929, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Carlos Garriga-Calvet, 2000. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1772, Econometric Society.
  7. Erosa, Andres & Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 338-369, August.
  8. Lorenzo Forni, 2005. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 178-194, January.
  9. Hansen, G D, 1993. "The Cyclical and Secular Behaviour of the Labour Input: Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 71-80, Jan.-Marc.
  10. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1998. "The Transition Path in Privatizing Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 215-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Enrique G. Mendoza & Assaf Razin & Linda L. Tesar, 1994. "Effective Tax Rates in Macroeconomics: Cross-Country Estimates of Tax Rates on Factor Incomes and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Would Privatizing Social Security Raise Economic Welfare?," NBER Working Papers 5281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Feldstein, Martin S, 1985. "The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 303-20, May.
  14. Homburg, Stefan, 2014. "The Efficiency of Unfunded Pension Schemes," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-523, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  15. 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.
  16. Luisa Fuster & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2003. "A welfare analysis of social security in a dynastic framework," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1247-1274, November.
  17. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Garriga, Carlos, 2003. "Status Quo Problem In Social Security Reforms," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(05), pages 691-710, November.
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