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Differential Mortality and the Progressivity of Social Security

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  • Shantanu Bagchi

    (Towson University)

Abstract

I examine if the positive correlation between wealth and survivorship has any implications for the progressivity of Social Security’s current benefit-earnings rule. Using a general-equilibrium macroeconomic model calibrated to the U.S. economy, I show that the optimal benefit-earnings link for Social Security is largely insensitive to wealth-dependent mortality risk. This is because while a more progressive benefit-earnings rule provides increased insurance for households with relatively unfavorable earnings histories, and therefore lower savings and survivorship, their relatively high mortality risk heavily discounts the utility from old-age consumption. I find that these two effects roughly offset each other, yielding nearly identical optimal benefit-earnings rules both with and without differential mortality.

Suggested Citation

  • Shantanu Bagchi, 2016. "Differential Mortality and the Progressivity of Social Security," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 16-263, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:16-263
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    Cited by:

    1. Haan, Peter & Kemptner, Daniel & Lüthen, Holger, 2020. "The rising longevity gap by lifetime earnings – Distributional implications for the pension system," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 17(C).
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    3. Monisankar Bishnu & Nick L. Guo & Cagri S Kumru, 2017. "Social Security: Progressive Benefits but Regressive Outcome?," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2017-656, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    differential mortality; Social Security; mortality risk; labor income risk; incomplete markets; social insurance; general equilibrium;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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