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"Will Social Security Be There For You?": How Americans Perceive Their Benefits

  • Jeff Dominitz
  • Charles F. Manski
  • Jordan Heinz

Americans may be uncertain of their future Social Security benefits for several reasons, including uncertainty about their future labor earnings, the formula now determining Social Security benefits, and the future structure of the Social Security system. To learn how Americans perceive their benefits, we have elicited Social Security expectations from respondents to the Survey of Economic Expectations. We have also performed a more intensive face-to-face survey on a small sample of respondents. We find clear and striking evidence of substantial uncertainty and heterogeneity of beliefs about the long-term existence of the Social Security system and about the level of benefits provided should the system survive.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9798.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9798
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  1. Jeff Dominitz, 1998. "Earnings Expectations, Revisions, And Realizations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(3), pages 374-388, August.
  2. John Y. Campbell & Joao F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascala J. Maenhout, 2000. "Investing Retirement Wealth? A Life-Cycle Model," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1896, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1999. "What People Don't Know About Their Pensions and Social Security: An Analysis Using Linked Data from the Health and Retirement Study," NBER Working Papers 7368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 1994. "Using Expectations Data to Study Subjective Income Expectations," NBER Working Papers 4937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 1996. "Eliciting Student Expectations of the Returns to Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-26.
  6. Manski, C.F., 1989. "The Use Of Intentions Data To Predict Behaviour : A Best- Case Analysis," Working papers 8905, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  7. Dominitz, Jeff, 2001. "Estimation of income expectations models using expectations and realization data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 165-195, June.
  8. Dominitz, J. & Manski, C.F., 1996. "Perceptions of Economic Insecurity: Evidence from the Survey of Economic Expectations," Working papers 9614, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  9. Martin Feldstein & Elena Ranguelova & Andrew Samwick, 2001. "The Transition to Investment-Based Social Security When Portfolio Returns and Capital Profitability Are Uncertain," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 41-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Social Security Benefits: An Empirical Study of Expectations and Realizations," NBER Working Papers 2257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. John McHale, 2001. "The Risk of Social Security Benefit-Rule Changes: Some International Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 247-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • 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.
  13. John Y. Campbell & Martin Feldstein, 2001. "Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number camp01-1, August.
  14. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," NBER Working Papers 8406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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