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The True Cost of Social Security

Author

Listed:
  • Alexander W. Blocker
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • Stephen A. Ross

Abstract

Implicit government obligations represent the lion's share of government liabilities in the U.S. and many other countries. Yet these liabilities are rarely measured, let alone properly adjusted for their risk. This paper shows, by example, how modern asset pricing can be used to value implicit fiscal debts taking into account their risk properties. The example is the U.S. Social Security System's net liability to working-age Americans. Marking this debt to market makes a big difference; its market value is 23 percent larger than the Social Security trustees' valuation method suggests.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander W. Blocker & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Stephen A. Ross, 2008. "The True Cost of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 14427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14427
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14427.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts: A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 55-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The arbitrage theory of capital asset pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 341-360, December.
    3. Baxter, Marianne, 2002. "Social Security as a financial asset: gender-specific risks and returns," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 35-52, March.
    4. Jerry Green & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2006. "On the General Relativity of Fiscal Language," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-036, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    5. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The valuation of options for alternative stochastic processes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1-2), pages 145-166.
    6. Andrews, Donald W K & Monahan, J Christopher, 1992. "An Improved Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 953-966, July.
    7. Ross, Stephen A, 1978. "A Simple Approach to the Valuation of Risky Streams," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 453-475, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laurence Kotlikoff, 2013. "The US Fiscal Cliff – When Economists Recklessly Endanger the Economy," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 14(2), pages 03-08, August.
    2. John Geanokoplos & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2010. "Market Valuation of Accrued Social Security Benefits," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring and Managing Federal Financial Risk, pages 213-233 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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