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Fostering Within-Family Human Capital Investment: An Intragenerational Insurance Perspective of Social Security

  • Martin Barbie
  • Marcus Hagedorn
  • Ashok Kaul

We propose an extended PAYG social security system that conditions pension benefits on the aggregate wage sum and on the wage of one’s children. The latter increases parents’ incentives to provide their children with good within-family education. However, since wages depend stochastically on parents’ unobservable investment in their children’s human capital, some insurance against the productivity risk of one’s children is provided because retirement income still depends on aggregate wages. We analyze the effects of such a social security system on the endogenous distribution of human capital and compare it to real world systems which typically do not condition benefits on the wages of one’s children. Our approach suggests a novel role for a well-designed social security system: it can foster human capital accumulation and act as an intra-generational insurance against productivity risk.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 236.

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  1. Gabrielle Demange & Guy Laroque, 1999. "Social Security and Demographic Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 527-542, May.
  2. Gordon, Roger H. & Varian, Hal R., 1988. "Intergenerational risk sharing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 185-202, November.
  3. Henning Bohn, 1999. "Social Security and Demographic Uncertainty: The Risk Sharing Properties of Alternative Policies," NBER Working Papers 7030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  5. Andrew B. Abel, . "The Social Security Trust Fund, the Riskless Interest Rate, and Capital Accumulation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-99, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. Michele Boldrin & Ana Montes, 2005. "The Intergenerational State Education and Pensions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 651-664.
  7. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2004. "The pay-as-you-go pension system as fertility insurance and an enforcement device," Munich Reprints in Economics 19606, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
  9. Cigno, Alessandro & Luporini, Annalisa & Pettini, Anna, 2003. "Transfers to families with children as a principal-agent problem," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1165-1177, May.
  10. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • 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.
  11. Enders, Walter & Lapan, Harvey E., 1982. "Social Security Taxation and Inter-Generational Risk Sharing," Staff General Research Papers 10822, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  12. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
  13. Robert C. Merton, 1983. "On the Role of Social Security as a Means for Efficient Risk Sharing in an Economy Where Human Capital Is Not Tradable," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System, pages 325-358 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bohn, Henning, 1998. "Risk Sharing in a Stochastic Overlapping Generations Economy," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt9r2809f0, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  15. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven, 1983. "Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi83-1, May.
  16. Schweizer, Urs, 1996. "Endogenous fertility and the Henry George Theorem," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 209-228, August.
  17. Martin Kolmar, 1997. "Intergenerational redistribution in a small open economy with endogenous fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 335-356.
  18. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249, June.
  19. Mookherjee, Dilip, 1984. "Optimal Incentive Schemes with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 433-46, July.
  20. Robert C. Merton, 1981. "On the Role of Social Security as a Means for Efficient Risk-Bearing in an Economy Where Human Capital Is Not Tradeable," NBER Working Papers 0743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Smith, Alasdair, 1982. "Intergenerational transfers as social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 97-106, October.
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