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How Well Does the US Social Insurance System Provide Social Insurance?

This paper answers the question posed in the title within a model where agents receive idiosyncratic, wage-rate shocks that are privately observed. When the model social insurance system is comprised by the US social security and income tax system, then the maximum ex-ante welfare gain to improved insurance is equivalent to a 12.3 percent increase in consumption. We determine the reasons behind this large welfare gain. We also analyze two parametric reforms of the model social insurance system. One reform increases welfare very little, whereas the other achieves nearly all of the maximum possible welfare gain.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~06-06-11.

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Date of creation: 11 Jun 2006
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~06-06-11
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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  3. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, 08.
  4. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen D., 2002. "Moral Hazard, Optimal Unemployment Insurance and Experience Rating," Staff General Research Papers 10133, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  6. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2003. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000426, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
  8. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "Two Views of Inequality Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 4728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  10. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2002. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000449, David K. Levine.
  11. Hugett, M. & Ventura, G., 1997. "On the Distributional Effects of Social Security Reform," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9710, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  12. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2010. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," Working Papers 2011-020, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  13. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 3962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Does Social Security Privatization Produce Efficiency Gains?," NBER Working Papers 11622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris I. & Yaron, Amir, 1999. "The risk-sharing implications of alternative social security arrangements," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 213-259, June.
  16. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2005. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000450, UCLA Department of Economics.
  17. Mirrlees, J. A., 1995. "Private risk and public action: The economics of the welfare state," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 383-397, April.
  18. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
  19. Greg Kaplan, 2007. "Inequality and the Lifecycle," 2007 Meeting Papers 262, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  20. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 7628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
  23. William Vickrey, 1939. "Averaging of Income for Income-Tax Purposes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47, pages 379.
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