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Distributional effects of subsidizing retirement savings accounts: Evidence from Germany

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  • Corneo, Giacomo
  • Schröder, Carsten
  • König, Johannes

Abstract

We empirically investigate the distributional consequences of the Riester scheme, the main private pension subsidization program in Germany. We find that 38% of the aggregate subsidy accrues to the top two deciles of the population, but only 7.3% to the bottom two. Nonetheless the Riester scheme is almost distributionally neutral when looking at standard inequality measures. This is due to two offsetting effects: a progressive one stemming from the subsidy schedule and a regressive one from voluntary participation. Regressions of the participation decision suggest that a high level of household wealth significantly increases the probability of benefiting from the Riester scheme.

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  • Corneo, Giacomo & Schröder, Carsten & König, Johannes, 2015. "Distributional effects of subsidizing retirement savings accounts: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers 2015/18, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:201518
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    1. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Soren Leth-Petersen & Torben Heien Nielsen & Tore Olsen, 2013. "Subsidies vs. Nudges: Which Policies Increase Saving the Most?," Issues in Brief ib2013-3, Center for Retirement Research.
    2. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich & Peter Haan & Johannes Geyer, 2008. "Documentation of the Tax-Benefit Microsimulation Model STSM: Version 2008," Data Documentation 31, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Christian Pfarr & Udo Schneider, 2011. "Anreizeffekte und Angebotsinduzierung im Rahmen der Riester‐Rente: Eine empirische Analyse geschlechts‐ und sozialisationsbedingter Unterschiede," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(1), pages 27-46, February.
    4. Joulfaian, David & Richardson, David, 2001. "Who Takes Advantage of Tax-Deferred Savings Programs? Evidence From Federal Income Tax Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 54(3), pages 669-688, September.
    5. Coppola, Michela & Reil-Held, Anette, 2009. "Dynamik der Riester-Rente: Ergebnisse aus SAVE 2003 bis 2008," MEA discussion paper series 09195, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
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    1. Johannes König & Carsten Schröder, 2018. "Inequality-minimization with a given public budget," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(4), pages 607-629, December.
    2. Bönke, Timm & Kemptner, Daniel & Lüthen, Holger, 2018. "Effectiveness of early retirement disincentives: Individual welfare, distributional and fiscal implications," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 25-37.
    3. Dolls, Mathias & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Stichnoth, Holger, 2018. "Do retirement savings increase in response to information about retirement and expected pensions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 168-179.
    4. Timm Bönke & Markus M. Grabka & Carsten Schröder & Edward N. Wolff, 2020. "A Head‐to‐Head Comparison of Augmented Wealth in Germany and the United States," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 122(3), pages 1140-1180, July.
    5. Dolls, Mathias & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Stichnoth, Holger, 2019. "Reprint of: Do retirement savings increase in response to information about retirement and expected pensions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 105-116.
    6. Salvador Barrios & Flavia Coda Moscarola & Francesco Figari & Luca Gandullia, 2020. "Size and distributional pattern of pension-related tax expenditures in European countries," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(5), pages 1287-1320, October.
    7. Mathias Dolls & Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl & Holger Stichnoth, 2016. "Do Savings Increase in Response to Salient Information about Retirement and Expected Pensions?," NBER Working Papers 22684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    saving subsidies; retirement plans; income distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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