IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/upf/upfgen/384.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Social security in theory and practice (I): Facts and political theories

Author

Listed:
  • Casey B. Mulligan
  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin

Abstract

166 countries have some kind of public old age pension. What economic forces create and sustain old age Social Security as a public program? We document some of the internationally and historically common features of Social Security programs including explicit and implicit taxes on labor supply, pay-as-you-go features, intergenerational redistribution, benefits which are increasing functions of lifetime earnings and not means-tested. We partition theories of Social Security into three groups: "political", "efficiency" and "narrative" theories. We explore three political theories in this paper: the majority rational voting model (with its two versions: "the elderly as the leaders of a winning coalition with the poor" and the "once and for all election" model), the "time-intensive model of political competition" and the "taxpayer protection model". Each of the explanations is compared with the international and historical facts. A companion paper explores the "efficiency" and "narrative" theories, and derives implications of all the theories for replacing the typical pay-as-you-go system with a forced savings plan.

Suggested Citation

  • Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Social security in theory and practice (I): Facts and political theories," Economics Working Papers 384, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:384
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://econ-papers.upf.edu/papers/384.pdf
    File Function: Whole Paper
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Burkhauser, Richard V & Warlick, Jennifer L, 1981. "Disentangling the Annuity from the Redistributive Aspects of Social Security in the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(4), pages 401-421, December.
    2. Peter Diamond, 1998. "The Economics of Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 6719, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Gerontocracy, retirement, and social security," Economics Working Papers 383, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    4. Garrett, Daniel M, 1995. "The Effects of Differential Mortality Rates on the Progressivity of Social Security," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 457-475, July.
    5. McClellan, Mark & Skinner, Jonathan, 2006. "The incidence of Medicare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 257-276, January.
    6. Robert J. Barro, 1998. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522543.
    7. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    8. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier X, 1996. "A Positive Theory of Social Security," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 277-304, June.
    9. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1998. "Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems," NBER Chapters, in: Privatizing Social Security, pages 403-456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jeffrey A. Miron & David N. Weil, 1998. "The Genesis and Evolution of Social Security," NBER Chapters, in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 297-322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1992. "Social Security and Medicare Policy from the Perspective of Generational Accounting," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 129-145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Martin Feldstein, 1985. "The Optimal Level of Social Security Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 303-320.
    13. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
    14. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Social security in theory and practice (II): Efficiency theories, narrative theories and implications for reform," Economics Working Papers 385, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    15. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 417-458, December.
    16. Marten Palme & lngemar Svensson, 1999. "Social Security, Occupational Pensions, and Retirement in Sweden," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security and Retirement around the World, pages 355-402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," LIS Working papers 142, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    18. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "The Family and the State," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, April.
    19. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
    20. Costa, Dora L., 1998. "The Evolution of Retirement," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226116082, December.
    21. Peltzman, Sam, 1980. "The Growth of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 209-287, October.
    22. Guido Tabellini, 2000. "A Positive Theory of Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 523-545, September.
    23. Jensen, Svend E Hougaard & Raffelhuschen, Bernd, 1997. "Generational and Gender-Specific Aspects of the Tax and Transfer System in Denmark," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 615-635.
    24. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-926, Sept./Oct.
    25. Axel Borsch-Supan & Reinhold Schnabel, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement in Germany," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security and Retirement around the World, pages 135-180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Richard V. Burkhauser & Jennifer L. Warlick, 1981. "Disentangling The Annuity From The Redistributive Aspects Of Social Security In The United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(4), pages 401-421, December.
    27. Becker, Gary S. & Mulligan, Casey B., 1998. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Working Papers 144, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State.
    28. Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Lawrence J. & Puffert, Douglas J. & Shoven, John B., 1986. "Social Security: A Financial Appraisal Across and Within Generations," CEPR Publications 244432, Stanford University, Center for Economic Policy Research.
    29. Samuel Preston, 1984. "Children and the elderly: Divergent paths for America’s dependents," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 21(4), pages 435-457, November.
    30. Paul Cashin, 1995. "Government Spending, Taxes, and Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(2), pages 237-269, June.
    31. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
    32. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Peltzman, Sam, 1980. "The Growth of Government," Working Papers 1, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State.
    34. Donald O. Parsons, 1982. "Demographic Effects on Public Charity to the Aged," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 144-152.
    35. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-154.
    36. Browning, Edgar K, 1975. "Why the Social Insurance Budget Is Too Large in a Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(3), pages 373-388, September.
    37. Peter Diamond, 1993. "Privatization of Social Security: Lessons from Chile," NBER Working Papers 4510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    38. Diamond, P. A., 1977. "A framework for social security analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 275-298, December.
    39. Didier Blanchet & Louis-Paul Pele, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement in France," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security and Retirement around the World, pages 101-133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    40. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    41. Robert P. Hagemann & Christoph John, 1997. "Fiscal Reform In Sweden: What Generational Accounting Tells Us," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(3), pages 1-12, July.
    42. Feldstein, Martin S, 1976. "Perceived Wealth in Bonds and Social Security: A Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 331-336, April.
    43. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1988. "Social Contracts as Assets: A Possible Solution to the Time-Consistency Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 662-677, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Social security in theory and practice (II): Efficiency theories, narrative theories and implications for reform," Economics Working Papers 385, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    2. 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.
    3. Mulligan Casey B & Gil Ricard & Sala-i-Martin Xavier X, 2010. "Social Security and Democracy," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-46, March.
    4. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Gerontocracy, Retirement, and Social Security," NBER Working Papers 7117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Casey Mulligan & Tomas Philipson, "undated". "Merit Motives and Government Intervention: Public Finance in Reverse," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 2000-03, Chicago - Population Research Center.
    6. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2002. "Political economics and public finance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1549-1659, Elsevier.
    7. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martín, 2003. "Social security, retirement, and the single-mindedness of the electorate," Economics Working Papers 686, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    8. Casey B. Mulligan & Ricard Gil & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2004. "Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 51-74, Winter.
    9. Mulligan, Casey B., 2000. "Can Monopoly Unionism Explain Publicly Induced Retirement?," Working Papers 157, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State.
    10. Casey B. Mulligan, 2000. "Can Monopoly Unionism Explain Publicly Induced Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 7680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Casey B. Mulligan, 2000. "Can Monopoly Unionism Explain Publicly Induced Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 7680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Gilles Le Garrec, 2009. "Système de retraite et vieillissement," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 93-94, pages 349-361.
    13. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2002. "Redistribution in the Current U.S. Social Security System," NBER Chapters, in: The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform, pages 11-48, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Mr. Hyun Park, 2006. "Expenditure Composition and Distortionary Tax for Equitable Economic Growth," IMF Working Papers 2006/165, International Monetary Fund.
    15. Ayşe İmrohoroğlu & Selahattin İmrohoroğlu & Douglas H. Joines, 2003. "Time-Inconsistent Preferences and Social Security," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 745-784.
    16. Hyun Park, 2010. "Fiscal Policy and Equitable Growth," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 121-140, February.
    17. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482, Elsevier.
    18. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
    19. Pecchenino, Rowena A. & Pollard, Patricia S., 2002. "Dependent children and aged parents: funding education and social security in an aging economy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 145-169, June.
    20. Jørgen Andersen, 2012. "Costs of taxation and the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 83-115, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Security; retirement; gerontocracy; retirement incentives; political theories of Social Security;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:384. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.econ.upf.edu/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask the person in charge to update the entry or send us the correct address (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.econ.upf.edu/ .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.