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Optimal Social Security with Imperfect Tagging


  • Oliver Denk

    (OECD - Economics Department and CEPII)

  • Jean-Baptiste Michau

    (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - Polytechnique - X - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


Workers are exposed to the risk of permanent disability. We rely on a dynamic mechanism design approach to determine how imperfect information on health should optimally be used to improve the trade-off between inducing the able to work and providing insurance against disability. After deriving the fi rst-order conditions to this problem, we calibrate the model to the U.S. economy and run a numerical simulation. The government should offer back-loaded incentives and make strategic use of the difference between the age at which disability occurs and the age of eligibility to disability bene ts. Also, the able who are (mistakenly) tagged as disabled should be encouraged to work until some early retirement age. This makes a decrease in the strictness of the disability test desirable which would reduce the number of disabled who are not awarded the tag and, hence, improve insurance. Finally, we show how the first-best allocation of resources can asymptotically be implemented by making strategic use of the disability test.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Denk & Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2013. "Optimal Social Security with Imperfect Tagging," Working Papers hal-00796521, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00796521
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amy Finkelstein & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2013. "What Good Is Wealth Without Health? The Effect Of Health On The Marginal Utility Of Consumption," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 221-258, January.
    2. José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1996. "Life-Cycle Economies and Aggregate Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(3), pages 465-489.
    3. Salanie, Bernard, 2002. "Optimal demogrants with imperfect tagging," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 319-324, May.
    4. repec:oup:restud:v:78:y::i:4:p:1490-1518 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Grochulski, Borys & Kocherlakota, Narayana, 2010. "Nonseparable preferences and optimal social security systems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(6), pages 2055-2077, November.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
    7. Stefania Albanesi & Christopher Sleet, 2006. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 1-30.
    8. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587.
    9. repec:hrv:faseco:30752834 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl, 2010. "The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 155-176, February.
    11. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
    12. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1986. " Payroll-Tax Financed Social Insurance with Variable Retirement," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 25-50.
    13. J. A. Mirrlees, 1999. "The Theory of Moral Hazard and Unobservable Behaviour: Part I," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 3-21.
    14. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2006. "The Growth in the Social Security Disability Rolls: A Fiscal Crisis Unfolding," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 71-96, Summer.
    15. Diamond, P. A. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "A model of social insurance with variable retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-336, December.
    16. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2004. "How large is the bias in self-reported disability?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 649-670.
    17. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2011. "Optimal Redistribution with Intensive and Extensive Labor Supply Margins: A Life-Cycle Perspective," Working Papers hal-00639121, HAL.
    18. Varian, Hal R., 1980. "Redistributive taxation as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 49-68, August.
    19. Parsons, Donald O., 1996. "Imperfect 'tagging' in social insurance programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 183-207, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hamish Low & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "Disability Risk, Disability Insurance and Life Cycle Behavior," NBER Working Papers 15962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michau, Jean-Baptiste, 2014. "Optimal redistribution: A life-cycle perspective," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1-16.
    3. Hamish Low & Luigi Pistaferri, 2015. "Disability Insurance and the Dynamics of the Incentive Insurance Trade-Off," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 2986-3029, October.
    4. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2011. "Optimal Redistribution with Intensive and Extensive Labor Supply Margins: A Life-Cycle Perspective," Working Papers hal-00639121, HAL.

    More about this item


    Disability insurance; Imperfect tagging; Optimal policy; Social Security;

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