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Uncertainty and Optimal Social Security Systems


  • E. Sheshinski
  • Y. Wiess


This paper examines the annuity aspect of social security within the framework of an overlapping-generations model. The duration of life is assumed to be uncertain. Under a fully funded system, demand for social security is determined by each generation so as to maximize expected lifetime utility, taking into account the welfare of future generations. Under a pay-as-you-go system with intergenerational transfers, demand for retirement benefits by the working population takes into account taxes paid by descendants. It is shown that the two modes of finance are equivalent in terms of all real aggregates. Effects of changes in expected lifetime and in the birth rate are analyzed. Starting at the optimal level, a compulsory balanced increase in social security taxes and benefits is shown to increase short-run savings.
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Suggested Citation

  • E. Sheshinski & Y. Wiess, 1978. "Uncertainty and Optimal Social Security Systems," Working papers 225, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:225

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-254, April.
    2. Duncan K. Foley & Martin F. Hellwig, 1975. "Asset Management with Trading Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(3), pages 327-346.
    3. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
    4. McCallum, Bennett T, 1977. "Price-Level Stickiness and the Feasibility of Monetary Stabilization Policy with Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 627-634, June.
    5. Phelps, Edmund S & Taylor, John B, 1977. "Stabilizing Powers of Monetary Policy under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 163-190, February.
    6. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
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