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

Author

Listed:
  • Jeff Dominitz
  • Charles F. Manski
  • Jordan Heinz

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9798
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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 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.
    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. J. Dominitz & C. F. Manski, "undated". "Perceptions of Economic Insecurity: Evidence from the Survey of Economic Expectations," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1105-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    5. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascal J. Maenhout, 2001. "Investing Retirement Wealth: A Life-Cycle Model," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 439-482 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Social Security Benefits: An Empirical Study of Expectations and Realizations," NBER Working Papers 2257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. J. Dominitz & C. F. Manski, "undated". "Using expectations data to study subjective income expectations," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1050-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    9. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2001. "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving," Working Papers wp012, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Manski, C.F., 1989. "The Use Of Intentions Data To Predict Behaviour : A Best- Case Analysis," Working papers 8905, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    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.
    14. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Blundell, Richard & Francesconi, Marco & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2011. "Anatomy of Welfare Reform Evaluation: Announcement and Implementation Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 6050, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Helen Levy & Kristin Seefeldt, 2008. "How Do Lower-Income Families Think about Retirement?," Working Papers wp195, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    3. Louis Kaplow, 2010. "Targeted Savings and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 15656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sita Slavov & Devon Gorry & Aspen Gorry & Frank N. Caliendo, 2017. "Social Security and Saving: An Update," NBER Working Papers 23506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. van der Klaauw, Wilbert & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 2008. "Social security and the retirement and savings behavior of low-income households," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 145(1-2), pages 21-42, July.
    6. Richard Disney, 2005. "Household Saving Rates and the Design of Social Security Programmes: Evidence from a Country Panel," CESifo Working Paper Series 1541, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Adeline Delavande, 2008. "Pill, Patch, Or Shot? Subjective Expectations And Birth Control Choice," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 999-1042, August.
    8. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Myopia and the Effects of Social Security and Capital Taxation on Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 12452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Richard Disney, 2006. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Design of Public Pension Programmes," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 37(2), pages 175-195.
    10. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "Targeted savings and labor supply," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(5), pages 507-518, October.
    11. van der Wiel, Karen, 2008. "Preparing for Policy Changes: Social Security Expectations and Pension Scheme Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 3623, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Disney, Richard, 2007. "Population ageing and the size of the welfare state: Is there a puzzle to explain?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 542-553, June.
    13. Hancock, Ruth & Henandez, Monica & Pudney, Stephen, 2004. "Participation in multiple welfare programmes: discrete choice with heterogeneous awareness," ISER Working Paper Series 2004-15, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    14. Portugal, Pedro & Raposo, Pedro, 2015. "Seriously Strengthening the Tax-Benefit Link," IZA Discussion Papers 8785, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Frank N. Caliendo & Aspen Gorry & Sita Slavov, 2015. "The Cost of Uncertainty about the Timing of Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 21585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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