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Optimal Pension Design in General Equlibrium

  • Fehr, Hans
  • Uhde, Johannes

The present paper aims to quantify efficiency properties of real world social security systems of various institutional designs in order to identify an optimal pension design. Starting from a benchmark economy without social security, we introduce alternative pension systems and compare the costs arising from liquidity constraints as well as labor and savings distortions versus the benefits from insurance provision against income and lifespan uncertainty. Our findings highlight strong efficiency losses arising from both means-testing pension benefits against private assets and restricting the contribution base while indicating a positive impact of means-testing flat benefits against earnings-related benefits within pension systems resting on several tiers. Furthermore, our results suggest that the negative correlation between pension progressivity and pension generosity may be justified on efficiency grounds. In our model a single-tier universal earnings-related pension system yields the highest efficiency gains dominating flat benefits as well as two-tier systems of any form.

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Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century with number 62024.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc12:62024
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  1. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
  2. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
  3. James Sefton, 2003. "Social Security Design in the UK: What is optimal?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 24(2), pages 121-151, June.
  4. Cremer, Helmuth & Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie & Pestieau, Pierre, 2006. "Social Desirability of Earning Tests," CEPR Discussion Papers 5551, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Hans Fehr & Christian Habermann, 2005. "Risk Sharing and Efficiency Implications of Progressive Pension Arrangements," DNB Working Papers 064, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  8. Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2011. "Should Pensions be Progressive? Yes, at least in Germany!," CESifo Working Paper Series 3636, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2010. "Myopia, redistribution and pensions," CORE Discussion Papers 2010038, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-86, April.
  11. Hans Fehr & Christian Habermann & Fabian Kindermann, 2008. "Social Security with Rational and Hyperbolic Consumers," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 884-903, October.
  12. András Simonovits, 2006. "Optimal Design of Pension Rule with Flexible Retirement: The Two-Type Case," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 197-222, December.
  13. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-99, April.
  14. Marko Koethenbuerger & Panu Poutvaara & Paola Profeta, 2005. "Why are More Redistributive Social Security Systems Smaller? A Median Voter Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 1397, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. Stephen G. Cecchetti & Pok-sang Lam & Nelson C. Mark, 1998. "Asset Pricing with Distorted Beliefs: Are Equity Returns Too Good To Be True?," NBER Working Papers 6354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. James Sefton & Justin vandeVen & Martin Weale, 2008. "Means Testing Retirement Benefits: fostering equity or discouraging savings?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 556-590, 04.
  17. Simonovits, Andr S, 2003. "Designing optimal linear rules for flexible retirement," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 273-293, November.
  18. Kudrna, George & Woodland, Alan, 2011. "An inter-temporal general equilibrium analysis of the Australian age pension means test," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 61-79, March.
  19. Shinichi Nishiyama & Kent Smetters, 2008. "The Optimal Design of Social Security Benefits," Working Papers wp197, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
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