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Social Security Replacement Rates for Alternative Earnings Benchmarks

Author

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  • Olivia S. Mitchell

    (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • John W.R. Phillips

    (National Institute of Aging)

Abstract

Social Security reform proposals are often presented in terms of their differential impacts on hypothetical or ‘example’ workers. Our work explores how different benchmarks produce different replacement rate outcomes. We use the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to evaluate how Social Security benefit replacement rates differ for actual versus hypothetical earner profiles, and we examine whether these findings are sensitive to alternative definitions of replacement rates. We find that workers with the median HRS profile would be estimated to receive benefits worth 55% of lifetime average earnings, versus 48% for the SSA medium scaled profile. Since US policymakers tend to prefer a replacement rate measure tied to workers’ own past earnings, using these metrics would yield higher replacement rates compared to commonly used scaled illustrative profiles. However, benchmarks that use population as opposed to individual earnings measures to compare individual worker benefits to pre-retirement consumption produce lower replacement rates for HRS versus hypothetical earners.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivia S. Mitchell & John W.R. Phillips, 2006. "Social Security Replacement Rates for Alternative Earnings Benchmarks," Working Papers wp116, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp116
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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp116.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John F. Cogan & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 149-172, Spring.
    2. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2006. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 607-643, August.
    3. Josh O’Harra & John Sabelhaus & Michael Simpson, 2004. "Overview of the Congressional Budget Office Long-Term (CBOLT) Policy Simulation Model: Technical Paper 2004-01," Working Papers 15188, Congressional Budget Office.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Martin Gervais, 2011. "Why Has Home Ownership Fallen Among The Young?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(3), pages 883-912, August.
    2. Aaron George Grech, 2013. "How best to measure pension adequacy," CASE Papers case172, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    3. Kluth, Sebastian & Gasche, Martin, 2013. "Ersatzraten in der Gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung," MEA discussion paper series 201311, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    4. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Martin Gervais, 2007. "First-time home buyers and residential investment volatility," Working Paper Series WP-07-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. Jingjing Chai & Wolfram Horneff & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2009. "Extending Life Cycle Models of Optimal Portfolio Choice: Integrating Flexible Work, Endogenous Retirement, and Investment Decisions with Lifetime Payouts," Working Papers wp204, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    6. Chai, Jingjing & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Rogalla, Ralph, 2011. "Lifecycle impacts of the financial and economic crisis on household optimal consumption, portfolio choice, and labor supply," CFS Working Paper Series 2011/23, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    7. Jingjing Chai & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell & Ralph Rogalla, 2012. "Exchanging Delayed Social Security Benefits for Lump Sums: Could This Incentivize Longer Work Careers?," Working Papers wp266, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Gervais, Martin & Fisher, Jonas, 2009. "Why has home ownership fallen among the young?," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0907, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    9. Barczyk, Daniel, 2016. "Ricardian equivalence revisited: Deficits, gifts and bequests," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-24.
    10. Ayse Imrohoroglu, 2014. "Proposition 13: An Equilibrium Analysis," 2014 Meeting Papers 1250, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell & Ralph Rogalla, 2010. "The Effect of Uncertain Labor Income and Social Security on Life-cycle Portfolios," NBER Working Papers 15682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Daniel Barczyk, 2013. "Deficits, Gifts, and Bequests," 2013 Meeting Papers 25, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Wallenius, Johanna, 2013. "Social security and cross-country differences in hours: A general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 2466-2482.
    14. repec:cep:sticas:/172 is not listed on IDEAS

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