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Social security and the rise in health spending: a macroeconomic analysis

  • Zhao, Kai
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In this paper, I develop a quantitative macroeconomic model with endogenous health and endogenous longevity and use it to study the impact of Social Security on aggregate health spending. I find that Social Security increases the aggregate health spending of the economy via two channels. First, Social Security transfers resources from the young with low marginal propensity to spend on health care to the elderly (age 65+) with high marginal propensity to spend on health care. Second, Social Security raises people's expected future utility and thus increases the marginal benefit from investing in health to live longer. In the calibrated version of the model, I show that the positive impact of Social Security on aggregate health spending is quantitatively important. The expansion of US Social Security since 1950 can account for approximately 43% of the dramatic rise in US health spending as a share of GDP over the same period (i.e. from 4% of GDP in 1950 to 13% of GDP in 2000). I also find that this positive impact of Social Security has two interesting policy implications. First, the negative effect of Social Security on capital accumulation in this model is significantly smaller than what previous studies have found, because Social Security induces extra years of life via health spending and thus encourages private savings for retirement. Second, Social Security has a significant spill-over effect on public health insurance programs (e.g. Medicare). As Social Security increases health spending and longevity, it also increases the insurance payments from these programs, thus raising their financial burden.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/34203/1/MPRA_paper_34203.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 34203.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:34203
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  1. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 1999. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," NBER Working Papers 7442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hui He & Hao Zhang & Tim Halliday, 2010. "Health Investment over the Life-Cycle," 2010 Meeting Papers 1179, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  4. Cutler, David & Lleras-Muney, Adriana & Deaton, Angus, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Scholarly Articles 2640588, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  9. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Aise Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Elimination of Social Security in a Dynastic Framework," 2005 Meeting Papers 928, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  12. Tomas J. Philipson & Gary S. Becker, 1998. "Old-Age Longevity and Mortality-Contingent Claims," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 551-573, June.
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  19. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1992. "Medical Care Costs: How Much Welfare Loss?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-21, Summer.
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  21. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Robert A. Moffitt & Peter Gottschalk, 2002. "Trends in the Transitory Variance of Earnings in the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C68-C73, March.
  23. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
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  25. Luisa Fuster & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2003. "A welfare analysis of social security in a dynastic framework," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1247-1274, November.
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