An Examination of Empirical Tests of Social Security and Savings
The effect of social security and other forms of government debt on national savings is one of the most widely debated policy questions in economics today. Some estimates suggest that social security has reduced U.S. savings by almost forty percent. This paper examines recent cross-section and time series empirical tests of the social security-savings question and argues that, given current data, neither type of test has much potential for settling the controversy. In particular, there are a number of specification problems relating to social security time series regressions that can easily lead to highly unstable coefficients and to rejection of the hypothesis that social security reduces savings, even if it is actually true. These points are demonstrated by running regressions on hypothetical data generated by a perfect foresight life-cycle growth model developed previously by the authors. While the data is obtained from a model in which social security reduces the nation's capital stock by almost twenty percent, time series social security regression coefficients vary enormously depending on the specified level of the program, the preferences of hypothetical households, the level of concommitant government policies, and the time interval of the data.
|Date of creation:||Aug 1981|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Auerbach, Alan J. and Kotlikoff, Laurence J. "An Examination of Empirical Tests of Social Security and Savings." In Social Policy Evaluation: An Economic Perspective, E. Helpman, Assaf Razin and EfraEfraim Sadka, pp. 161-179 . New York: Academic Press, (1983).|
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- Alan J. Auerbach & Lawrence Kotlikoff, 1980.
"National Savings, Economic Welfare, and the Structure of Taxation,"
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
570, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1983. "National Savings, Economic Welfare, and the Structure of Taxation," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral Simulation Methods in Tax Policy Analysis, pages 459-498 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1981. "National Savings, Economic Welfare, and the Structure of Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "Social Security and Equilibrium Capital Intensity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 233-53, May.
- Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "The Phillips curve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, January.
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"Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?,"
3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Martin Feldstein, 1980. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation:A Correction and Updating," NBER Working Papers 0579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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