Would Privatizing Social Security Raise Economic Welfare?
A funded social security retirement program would imply a larger capital stock and a higher level of real income than an unfunded program that provides the same level of benefits. The transition from an unfunded program to a funded program that does not reduce the benefits of existing retirees or the present value of the benefit entitlements of existing employees would, however, require substituting explicit government debt for the equally large implicit debt of the unfunded program. This paper shows that such a debt financed transition from an unfunded program to a funded program is not just a change of form without economic effects. Such a debt financed transition would raise economic welfare if three conditions are met: (1) the marginal product of capital exceeds the rate of economic growth; (2) the capital intensity of the economy is below the welfare maximizing level (i.e., the marginal product of capital exceeds the appropriate consumption discount rate); and (3) the rate of economic growth is positive. Illustrative calculations based on U.S. experience since 1960 suggest that the present value of the gain from a debt financed transition to a funded program would substantially exceed the current level of GDP. More explicitly, even with a relatively high real consumption discount rate of 4.4 percent, the present value gain would be about 1.5 dollars per dollar of current net social security wealth or about $17 trillion.
|Date of creation:||Sep 1995|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Feldstein, Martin (ed.) Privatizing Social Security. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
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.:
- Andrew Abel & Gregory N. Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers & Richard Zeckhauser, .
"Assessing Dynamic Efficiency: Theory and Evidence,"
Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers
14-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1996.
"Privatization of Social Security: How It Works and Why It Matters,"
in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 10, pages 1-32
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1995. "Privatization of Social Security: How it Works and Why it Matters," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 66, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
- Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1995. "Privatization of Social Security: How It Works and Why It Matters," NBER Working Papers 5330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001.
NBER Working Papers
8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
- Feldstein, Martin S, 1985.
"The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 303-20, May.
- Martin Feldstein & James M. Poterba & Louis Dicks-Mireaux, 1981.
"The Effective Tax Rate and the Pretax Rate of Return,"
NBER Working Papers
0740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Feldstein, Martin & Dicks-Mireaux, Louis & Poterba, James, 1983. "The effective tax rate and the pretax rate of return," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 129-158, July.
- Arrow, Kenneth J & Lind, Robert C, 1970. "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 364-78, June.
- Salvador Valdés & Peter Diamond, . "Social Security Reforms in Chile," Documentos de Trabajo 161, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
- Peter Diamond, 2004. "Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 1-24, March.
- Corsetti, Giancarlo & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1995. "Pension reform and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1471, The World Bank.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5281. 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.