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Americans' Dependency on Social Security

Author

Listed:
  • Laurence Kotlikoff

    (Boston University)

  • Ben Marx

    (Boston University)

  • Pietro Rizza

    (Boston University)

Abstract

According to a recent estimate by Gokhale and Smetters (2005), the present value difference between the U.S. government’s projected future expenditures and its projected future tax receipts exceeds $60 trillion. Closing this enormous fiscal gap requires a variety of different tax increases and expenditure reductions. In this paper we examine how potential Social Security benefit cuts would impact the wellbeing of different American households. Specifically, we examine the living standard impacts of immediate and permanent 30 percent and 100 percent cuts in Social Security benefits. We examine cuts of these magnitudes to illustrate the dependency of the population on Social Security and to help policymakers calibrate the cost to Americans of this form of policy adjustment. The extent of current and future living standard reductions in response to announcements of future Social Security benefit cuts depends on the age of the household, when the cuts are announced, the size of the cuts, and the income of the household. Social Security benefit cuts of 30 percent, if announced when a household is about to retire, can lead to retirement living standard reductions ranging from roughly one tenth to one third depending on the household’s income. These reductions in living standard are substantially reduced if the household learns at younger ages about the benefit cuts and, consequently, has a longer time period over which to adjust.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence Kotlikoff & Ben Marx & Pietro Rizza, 2006. "Americans' Dependency on Social Security," Working Papers wp126, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp126
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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp126.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Kent Smetters, 2005. "Measuring Social Security’s Financial Problems," Working Papers wp093, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Francisco J. Gomes & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Luis M. Viceira, 2012. "The Excess Burden of Government Indecision," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 26, pages 125-163 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & David Rapson, 2007. "Does It Pay, at the Margin, to Work and Save? Measuring Effective Marginal Taxes on Americans' Labor Supply and Saving," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 21, pages 83-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Grech, Aaron George, 2012. "Evaluating the possible impact of pension reforms onfuture living standards in Europe," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51296, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. repec:cep:sticas:/161 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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