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Transition to a Fully Funded Pension System: Five Economic Issues

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  • Martin Feldstein

Abstract

This paper provides a relatively nontechnical discussion of the effects of shifting from a pay-as-you-go system of Social Security pensions to a fully funded plan based on individual accounts. The analysis discusses the rationale for such a shift and deals with five common problems: (1) the nature of the transition path; (2) the effect of the shift on national saving and capital accumulation; (3) the rate of return that such accounts would earn; (4) the risks of unfunded and funded systems; and (5) the distributional effects of the shift.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Feldstein, 1997. "Transition to a Fully Funded Pension System: Five Economic Issues," NBER Working Papers 6149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6149
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feldstein, Martin, 1996. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 1-14, May.
    2. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1999. "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1299-1318, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1998. "Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems," NBER Chapters, in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 403-456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324, Elsevier.
    6. Morris Goldstein & Michael Mussa, 1993. "The integration of world capital markets," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 245-330.
    7. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1997. "The Economics of Prefunding Social Security and Medicare Benefits," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 115-164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-329, June.
    9. Martin Feldstein & Philippe Bacchetta, 1991. "National Saving and International Investment," NBER Chapters, in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 201-226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1998. "The Transition Path in Privatizing Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 215-264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Svend Jensen & Jukka Lassila, 2002. "Reforming Social Security in a Transition Economy: The Case of Lithuania," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 17-36.
    2. John Geanakoplos & Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Zeldes, "undated". "Social Security Money's Worth," Pension Research Council Working Papers 97-20, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. John Geanakoplos & Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Zeldes, "undated". "Would a Privatized Social Security System Really Pay a Higher Rate of Return?," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Krzysztof Kompa & Dorota Witkowska, 2014. "Pension Funds in Poland: Efficiency Analysis for Years 1999-2013," Dynamic Econometric Models, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, vol. 14, pages 105-124.
    5. Lee, Ronald & Mason, Andrew & Miller, Timothy, 2000. "From Transfers to Individual Responsibility: Implications for Savings and Capital Accumulation in Taiwan and the United States," Arbetsrapport 2000:3, Institute for Futures Studies.
    6. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security in the U.S. -- Comparing the Options," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 532-574, July.
    7. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris I. & Yaron, Amir, 1999. "The risk-sharing implications of alternative social security arrangements," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 213-259, June.
    8. Juan Carlos Conesa & Carlos Garriga, 2000. "Reforma del sistema de seguridad social y adquisición de formación," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 24(2), pages 271-295, May.
    9. Mario Holzner & Stefan Jestl & David Pichler, 2019. "Public and Private Pension Systems and Macroeconomic Volatility in OECD Countries," wiiw Working Papers 172, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    10. Thomas Url, 2001. "Ertragsrisken kapitalgedeckter Pensionssysteme," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 74(2), pages 121-128, February.
    11. D'Amato, Marcello & Galasso, Vincenzo, 2002. "Aggregate Risk, Political Constraints and Social Security Design," CEPR Discussion Papers 3330, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 2001. "Finding a Way Out of America's Demographic Dilemma," NBER Working Papers 8258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Lorenzo Forni & Raffaela Giordano, 2001. "Funding a PAYG pension system: the case of Italy," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 487-526., December.
    14. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2000. "Why a Funded Pension System is Needed and Why It is Not Needed," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(4), pages 389-410, August.
    15. Jesus Ferreiro & Felipe Serrano, 2012. "Expectations, uncertainty and institutions. An application to the analysis of social security reforms," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 253-266, October.
    16. Ahmed, Javed & Barber, Brad M. & Odean, Terrance, 2018. "Made poorer by choice: Worker outcomes in social security vs. private retirement accounts," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 311-322.
    17. Carlos Garriga, 2005. "Un análisis de equilibrio general de dos propuestas de reforma de la seguridad social," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 29(1), pages 117-148, January.
    18. Kubicek, Jan, 2005. "Contribution rates to funded pension systems in the new member countries," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 266-280, June.
    19. Ronald Lee & Andrew Mason & Timothy Miller, 2003. "Saving, Wealth and the Transition from Transfers to Individual Responsibility: The Cases of Taiwan and the United States," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(3), pages 339-358, September.
    20. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 1998. "Individual Risk and Intergenerational Risk Sharing in an Investment-Based Social Security Program," NBER Working Papers 6839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment

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