The Developed World's Demographic Transition - The Roles of Capital Flows, Immigration, and Policy
The developed word stands at the fore of a phenomenal demographic transition. Over the next 30 years the number of elderly in the U.S., the EU, and Japan will more than double. At the same time, the number of workers available to pay the elderly their government-guaranteed pension and health care benefits will rise by less than 10 percent. The fiscal implications of these two demographic trends are alarming. Paying promised benefits will, it appears, require a doubling or more of payroll tax rates. This paper asks if there is a silver lining in this dark cloud hanging over the developed world. Specifically, can the developed economies hope to be bailed out by either macroeconomic feedback effects of by increased migration? To address these questions, this paper develops and simulates a dynamic, intergeneration, and interregional demographic life-cycle model. The model has three regions the U.S. Japan which exchange goods and capital. The model features immigration, age-specific fertility, life span extension, life span uncertainty, bequests arising from incomplete annuitization, and intra-cohort heterogeneity. Other things equal, one would expect the aging of the developed economies to increase capital per worker as the number of suppliers of capital (the old) rises relative to the number of suppliers of labor (the young). But given the need to pay the elderly their benefits, other things are far from equal. According to our simulations, the tax hikes needed to finance benefits along the demographic transition path generate a major capital shortage that lowers real wages by 19 percent and raises real interest rates by over 400 basis points. Hence, far from mitigating the developed world's fiscal problems, macroeconomic feedback effects make matters significantly worse. The simulations also show that increased immigration does very little to mitigate the fiscal stresses facing the developed world. On the other hand, there are policies that can materially improve the developed world's long-term prospects. The one examined here is closing down, at the margin, existing government pension systems and using consumption taxes to pay off those program's accrued liabilities. This policy could be coupled with the establishment of a fully funded mandatory individual saving system. According to our simulations, this policy would impose modest welfare losses on current generations, but generate enormous welfare gains for future generations. Future Europeans and Japanese benefit the most. Their net wages almost triple, and their welfare levels double compared with the no-reform scenario.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2003|
|Publication status:||published as Brooks, Robin and Assaf Razin (eds.) Social Security Reform. Cambridge University Press, 2005.|
|Note:||AG IFM PE|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Gokhale, Jagadeesh & Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Sefton, James & Weale, Martin, 2001.
"Simulating the transmission of wealth inequality via bequests,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 93-128, January.
- Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & James Sefton & Martin Weale, 1999. "Simulating the Transmission of Wealth Inequity via Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & James Sefton & Martin Weale, 1998. "Simulating the transmission of wealth inequality via bequests," Working Paper 9811, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Axel BÃ¶rsch-Supan & Alexander Ludwig & Joachim Winter, 2002.
"Aging and International Capital Flows,"
MEA discussion paper series
02010, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
- Börsch-Supan, Axel & Ludwig, Alexander & Winter, Joachim, 2002. "Aging and International Capital Flows," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 02-27, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
- Börsch-Supan, Axel & Ludwig, Alexander & Winter, Joachim, 2001. "Aging and International Capital Flows," Discussion Papers 605, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
- Axel Boersch-Supan & Alexander Ludwig & Joachim Winter, 2001. "Aging and International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 8553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
- Mariacristina De Nardi & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Thomas J. Sargent, 1999.
"Projected U.S. Demographics and Social Security,"
Review of Economic Dynamics,
Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 575-615, July.
- Thai-Thanh Dang & Pablo Antolín & Howard Oxley, 2001. "Fiscal Implications of Ageing: Projections of Age-Related Spending," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 305, OECD Publishing.
- Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Robert P. Hagemann & Giuseppe Nicoletti, 1989. "The Economic Dynamics of an Ageing Population: The Case of Four OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 62, OECD Publishing.
- Whitehouse, Edward, 2001. "Pension systems in 15 countries compared: the value of entitlements," MPRA Paper 14751, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Sveinbjörn Blöndal & Stefano Scarpetta, 1999. "The Retirement Decision in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 202, OECD Publishing.
- Alan Auerbach & Laurence Kotlikoff, 2002. "Auerbach-Kotlikoff Model," QM&RBC Codes 90, Quantitative Macroeconomics & Real Business Cycles.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10096. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.