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The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security when Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability are Uncertain

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  • Martin Feldstein
  • Elena Ranguelova
  • Andrew Samwick

Abstract

In this paper we study the transition from a pay-as-you-go system of Social Security pensions to an investment-based system in an economy in which portfolio returns and capital profitability are both uncertain. The paper extends earlier studies by Feldstein and Samwick that modeled the transition process in a nonstochastic environment and by Feldstein and Ranguelova that examined the implication of portfolio risk after the transition to an investment-based system has been completed. We analyze transitions to a mixed system that maintains the current 12.4 percent pay-as-you-go tax rate as well as to a system that is completely investment-based. We model intergenerational guarantees and assess the risk of such guarantees to taxpayers. We find that transitions to either a completely investment-based system or a mixed system that maintains current law benefits can be done with little additional saving in the early years (a maximum of three percent) and substantially lower combinations of taxes and saving deposits in the later years. The extra risk to retirees and/or taxpayers is relatively small, making the investment-based plans preferable to a pure pay-as-you-go system for reasonable degrees of risk aversion.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 1999. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security when Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 7016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Martin S. Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 2002. "The Economics of Bequests in Pensions and Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 371-400 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Lawrence J. & Puffert, Douglas J. & Shoven, John B., 1986. "Social Security: A Financial Appraisal Across and Within Generations," CEPR Publications 244432, Stanford University, Center for Economic Policy Research.
    7. 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.
    8. Feldstein, Martin (ed.), 1998. "Privatizing Social Security," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226241012, December.
    9. 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.
    10. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
    11. Valdés-Prieto,Salvador (ed.), 1999. "The Economics of Pensions," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521666121.
    12. Poterba, James M., 1998. "The rate of return to corporate capital and factor shares: new estimates using revised national income accounts and capital stock data," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 211-246, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey Brown, 2002. "Differential Mortality and the Value of Individual Account Retirement Annuities," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 401-446 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David K. Miles, 2000. "Funded and Unfunded Pension Schemes: Risk, Return and Welfare," CESifo Working Paper Series 239, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. G. M. Constantinides & J. B. Donaldson & R. Mehra, 2005. "Junior must pay: pricing the implicit put in privatizing Social Security," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-34, January.
    4. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 2001. "Accumulated Pension Collars: A Market Approach to Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, pages 149-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_567 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities," NBER Working Papers 11271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Martin Feldstein, 2002. "Introduction: An American Perspective," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Pension Reform in Europe, pages 1-8 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Liqun Liu & Andrew J. Rettenmaier & Thomas R. Saving, 2003. "The transition to private market provision of elderly entitlements," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Oct, pages 99-119.
    9. Martin S. Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova, 2002. "The Economics of Bequests in Pensions and Social Security," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 371-400 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bossi, Luca, 2008. "Intergenerational risk shifting through social security and bailout politics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 2240-2268, July.
    11. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2003. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities versus Phased Withdrawal Plans," Working Papers wp063, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    12. Miles, David K & Sefton, James, 2002. "Optimal Social Security Design," CEPR Discussion Papers 3290, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Robert Gillingham & Daniel S Kanda, 2001. "Pension Reform in India," IMF Working Papers 01/125, International Monetary Fund.
    14. David Miles & Ales Cerny, 2001. "Risk, Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Arrangements with Imperfect Financial Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 441, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski & Jordan Heinz, 2002. "Social Security Expectations and Retirement Savings Decisions," NBER Working Papers 8718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Horneff, Wolfram J. & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Dus, Ivica, 2008. "Following the rules: Integrating asset allocation and annuitization in retirement portfolios," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 396-408, February.
    17. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski & Jordan Heinz, 2003. ""Will Social Security Be There For You?": How Americans Perceive Their Benefits," NBER Working Papers 9798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Wolfram Horneff & Raimond Maurer & Olivia Mitchell & Ivica Dus, 2006. "Optimizing the Retirement Portfolio: Asset Allocation, Annuitization, and Risk Aversion," Working Papers wp124, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    19. Gupta Ramesh, 2002. "Pension Reforms in India: Myth, Reality and Policy Choices," IIMA Working Papers WP2002-09-03, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    20. Cerny, Ales & Miles, David K, 2001. "Risk Return and Portfolio Allocation under Alternative Pension Systems with Imperfect Financial Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 2779, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Miles, David K, 2000. "Funded and Unfunded Pensions: Risk, Return and Welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 2369, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1999. "Maintaining Social Security Benefits and Tax Rates through Personal Retirement Accounts: An Update Based on the 1998 Social Security Trustees Report," NBER Working Papers 6540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Thomas Url, 2001. "Profitability Risks of Fully Funded Old-Age Pension Systems," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 74(2), pages 121-128, February.
    24. Liqun Liu & Andrew J. Rettenmaier & Thomas R. Saving, 2005. "Private Accounts as a Solution to Social Security's Debt," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 20(Spring 20), pages 97-125.
    25. Smetters, Kent, 2002. "Controlling the cost of minimum benefit guarantees in public pension conversions," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 9-33, March.

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    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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