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Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis

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  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • Stephen P. Zeldes

Abstract

This paper identifies the key economic issues that must be addressed in the debate over a privatized social security system. We examine a two-pillar plan. The first pillar would consist of a demogrant: a small indexed pension of the same dollar amount for all retirees who had contributed to the system over a full lifetime of work. The second pillar would consist of a fully-funded individual defined-contribution account, financed by payroll taxes, held in financial institutions, and directed by participants. We explore how such a system would affect the risks households face, how it would alter the distribution of income, and how it might influence household behavior, including incentives to work and save, and portfolio choices. We also examine macroeconomic issues: how the transition to a private plan would occur, and what the likely effects would be on national saving. We conclude that a two-pillar system offers several positive features, namely a reduction in political risk, an increase in household portfolio choice, and improved work incentives. Disadvantages include less redistributiveness and national risk sharing, and increased administrative costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1996. "Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5512
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Would Privatizing Social Security Raise Economic Welfare?," NBER Working Papers 5281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1996. "Privatization of Social Security: How It Works and Why It Matters," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 10, pages 1-32, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Peter Diamond, 2004. "Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 1-24, March.
    4. Salvador Valdés & Peter Diamond, "undated". "Social Security Reforms in Chile," Documentos de Trabajo 161, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
    5. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
    6. Panis, C.W.A. & Lillard, L.A., 1996. "Socioeconomic Differentials in the Returns to Social Security," Papers 96-05, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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