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Fiscal Policy and Social Security Policy During the 1990s

Author

Listed:
  • Douglas W. Elmendorf
  • Jeffrey B. Liebman
  • David W. Wilcox

Abstract

This paper reviews the course of fiscal policy and Social Security policy during the 1990s. The 1990s witnessed two fundamental changes in U.S. fiscal policy: a dramatic improvement in the current and projected budget balance, and a shift to a new political consensus in favor of balancing the budget excluding Social Security rather than the unified budget. The dramatic improvement in the budget outlook stemmed both from favorable developments in the economic environment and from deliberate policy actions that reduced budget deficits and later did not spend down the surpluses. In contrast, the 1990s did not witness significant changes in Social Security policy, although alternative visions of Social Security reform received tremendous analytic and popular attention. The 1994-1996 Advisory Council on Social Security presented three reform plans that placed important emphasis on additional prefunding. Each involved some form of investment in equities either centrally, through the trust fund, or in a decentralized manner, through individual accounts. Late in the decade, with the emergence of on-budget surpluses, the possibility of general revenue contributions to the Social Security system came under serious consideration. In the end, President Clinton decided to pursue Social Security reform based on general revenue contributions to the trust fund and centralized investment in equities rather than creating individual accounts, but his proposal was not adopted.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas W. Elmendorf & Jeffrey B. Liebman & David W. Wilcox, 2001. "Fiscal Policy and Social Security Policy During the 1990s," NBER Working Papers 8488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8488
    Note: AG EFG PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin S. Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "The Distributional Effects of an Investment-Based Social Security System," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 263-326 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Auerbach, Alan J. & Gale, William G., 2000. "Perspectives on the Budget Surplus," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(3), pages 459-472, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1991. "Current and Anticipated Deficits, Interest Rates and Economic Activity," NBER Chapters,in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 361-390 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Peter A. Diamond, 2000. "Administrative Costs and Equilibrium Charges with Individual Accounts," NBER Chapters,in: Administrative Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 137-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Redistribution in the Current U.S. Social Security System," NBER Chapters,in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 11-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    20. repec:fth:harver:1490 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Martin Feldstein, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 33-55, Spring.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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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