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Sustainable social security: four options

  • Sagiri Kitao

This paper presents four policy options to make Social Security sustainable under the coming demographic shift: 1) increase payroll taxes by 6 percentage points, 2) reduce the replacement rates of the benefit formula by one-third, 3) raise the normal retirement age from sixty-six to seventy-three, or 4) means-test the benefits and reduce them one-to-one with income. While all four policies achieve the same goal, their economic outcomes differ significantly. Options 2 and 3 encourage own savings, and capital stock is more than 10 percent higher than in the other two options. The payroll tax increase in option 1 discourages work effort, but means-testing the benefits as outlined in option 4 yields the worst labor disincentives, especially among the elderly.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 505.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:505
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  1. Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Kitao, Sagiri, 2009. "Labor supply elasticity and social security reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 867-878, August.
  2. Eric French, 2005. "The Effects of Health, Wealth, and Wages on Labour Supply and Retirement Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 395-427.
  3. John Bailey Jones & Eric French, 2010. "The Effects of Health Insurance and Self-Insurance on Retirement Behavior," Discussion Papers 10-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  4. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Julian Diaz-Saavedra, 2009. "Delaying Retirement in Spain," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 147-167, January.
  5. Mariacristina De Nardi & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Thomas J. Sargent, 1998. "Projected U.S. demographics and social security," Working Paper Series WP-98-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2009. "Why do the elderly save? the role of medical expenses," Working Paper Series WP-09-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Daniel Aaronson & Eric French, 2004. "The Effect of Part-Time Work on Wages: Evidence from the Social Security Rules," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 329-352, April.
  9. Tran, Chung & Woodland, Alan, 2014. "Trade-offs in means tested pension design," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 72-93.
  10. Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Smetters, Kent & Walliser, Jan, 2007. "Mitigating America's demographic dilemma by pre-funding social security," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 247-266, March.
  11. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security in the U.S. -- Comparing the Options," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 532-574, July.
  12. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2007. "To Leave or Not to Leave: The Distribution of Bequest Motives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 207-235.
  13. Jonathan Heathcote, 2003. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-19, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Attanasio Orazio P. & Gianluca Violante, 1999. "Global Demographic Trends and Social Security Reform," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, September.
  16. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
  17. 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.
  18. repec:oup:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:4:p:1677-1719 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. 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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