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Social Security is NOT a Substitute for Annuities

Author

Listed:
  • Roozbeh Hosseini

    (Arizona State University)

  • Lei (Nick) Guo

    (Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University)

  • Frank Caliendo

    (Utah State University)

Abstract

Common wisdom suggests that a fully-funded actuarially fair social security system must increase welfare when households face longevity risk and annuity markets are missing. This wisdom is based on the observation that social security pays benefits as life annuities and therefore appears to complete the market. However, we argue that common wisdom is based on a benefit-only analysis that ignores a fundamental cost-- social security crowds out the bequests that households leave (and receive) in general equilibrium. We conduct a general equilibrium cost-benefit analysis of the insurance role of social security, and we show that under very general and empirically relevant conditions, this decline in bequest income offsets any possible gains from access to a public annuity pool. We abstract from distortions to national income and factor prices to show that the equilibrium bequest channel is all that is needed to reach this conclusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Roozbeh Hosseini & Lei (Nick) Guo & Frank Caliendo, 2013. "Social Security is NOT a Substitute for Annuities," 2013 Meeting Papers 680, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:680
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    Cited by:

    1. Bagchi, Shantanu, 2015. "Labor supply and the optimality of Social Security," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 167-185.
    2. Heer, Burkhard & Irmen, Andreas, 2014. "Population, pensions, and endogenous economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 50-72.
    3. Daniel Harenberg & Alexander Ludwig, 2015. "Social security in an analytically tractable overlapping generations model with aggregate and idiosyncratic risks," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(4), pages 579-603, August.
    4. Daniel Harenberg & Alexander Ludwig, 2019. "Idiosyncratic Risk, Aggregate Risk, And The Welfare Effects Of Social Security," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(2), pages 661-692, May.
    5. Bagchi, Shantanu, 2019. "Differential mortality and the progressivity of social security," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 1-1.
    6. Bagchi Shantanu, 2017. "Can removing the tax cap save Social Security?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 1-28, June.
    7. Daniel Harenberg & Alexander Ludwig, "undated". "Social Security and the Interactions Between Aggregate and Idiosyncratic Risk," Working Papers ETH-RC-14-002, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.

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