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Markovian Social Security in Unequal Societies

  • Zheng Song

    (Fudan University)

  • Kaiji Chen

    (University of Oslo)

In this paper, we develop a dynamic politico-economic theory of social security to address two questions. First, how is social security sustained? Second, how does inequality affect the size of social security, and can the theoretical predictions be consistent with the observed puzzling relationships between inequality and the size of social security? As a stark framework, our model economy features the absence of altruism, commitment, reputation mechanism and electoral uncertainty. We characterize analytically a Markov perfect equilibrium and find that the joint between Markovian tax policy and tax distortion on private investment shapes an intertemporal policy rule linking taxes positively over time. The positive intertemporal tax linkage, by allowing current taxpayers to influence their own future social security benefit, provides the political support for social security. Moreover, we find that a larger wage inequality weakens the intertemporal tax linkage and, thus, reduces inter-generational redistributive benefit. This may lead to a smaller size of social security. Our theoretical predictions are in line with both time-series and cross-country correlations between inequality and social security.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2009 Meeting Papers with number 318.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:318
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  1. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Christopher I. & Yaron, Amir, 2004. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 609-633, April.
  2. Casey B Mulligan, 1999. "Gerontocracy, Retirement, and Social Security," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 154, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Juan C. Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 1999. "Social Security Reform with Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(4), pages 757-795, October.
  5. Zheng Song, 2009. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico-Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," 2009 Meeting Papers 94, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Lorenzo Forni, 2005. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 178-194, January.
  7. CREMER, Helmuth & DE DONDER, Philippe & MALDONADO, Dario & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2006. "Voting over type and generosity of a pension system when some individuals are myopic," CORE Discussion Papers 2006079, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  8. Benabou, R., 1996. "Inequality and Growth," Working Papers 96-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  9. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  10. Zheng Song, 2011. "The Dynamics of Inequality and Social Security in General Equilibrium," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 613-635, October.
  11. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, 2007. "The Redistributive Design of Social Security Systems," Working Papers 2007-07, FEDEA.
  12. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
  13. Song, Zheng, 2008. "Persistent Ideology and the Determination of Public Policies over Time," MPRA Paper 10364, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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