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A Positive Theory of the Income Redistributive Focus of Social Security

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  • Bhattacharya, Joydeep
  • Reed, Robert

Abstract

Many countries around the world have large public pension programs. Traditionally, these programs have been used to induce retirement by the elderly in order to free up jobs for the young and to redistribute income across generations. This paper provides an efficiency rationale for the inter-generational income redistribution focus of such programs in a framework which explicitly accounts for the role of the lifecycle as well as search and matching frictions in the labor market. In our model, public pension programs alter the age composition of the labor force by inducing the jobless elderly to retire. By requiring a long history of labor market attachment in order to receive benefits, these programs raise the future value of current employment for the young which serves to redistribute bargaining power, and hence income, from the young to the old. The paper argues that pension programs through their effect on the wage structure, the age distribution of the labor force and firm entry decisions, can improve the operation of the labor market and might therefore be desirable on efficiency grounds alone (abstracting from equity and insurance motives). It shows that a pension program that is funded from within the economy can lead to higher welfare than having no pension program at all.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Reed, Robert, 2003. "A Positive Theory of the Income Redistributive Focus of Social Security," Staff General Research Papers Archive 10681, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:10681
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    File URL: http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/papers/p1813-2003-07-25.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joydeep Bhattacharya & Casey B. Mulligan & Robert R. Reed, 2004. "Labor Market Search and Optimal Retirement Policy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(4), pages 560-571, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Todd B. Walker, 2005. "How Equilibrium Prices Reveal Information in Time Series Models with Disparately Informed, Competitive Traders," Finance 0509021, EconWPA.
    2. Gerhard Glomm & Juergen Jung, 2013. "The Timing of Redistribution," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 50-80, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    pensions; search; labor market efficiency; unemployment; lifecycle;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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