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The Distributional Aspects of Social Security and Social Security Reform

Social security is the largest and perhaps the most popular program run by the federal government. Given the projected increase in both individual life expectancy and sheer number of retirees, however, the current system faces an eventual overload. Alternative proposals have emerged, ranging from reductions in future benefits to a rise in taxrevenue to various forms of investment-based personal retirement accounts.

As this volume suggests, the distributional consequences of these proposals are substantially different and may disproportionately affect those groups who depend on social security to avoid poverty in old age. Together, these studies persuasively show that appropriately designed investment-based social security reforms can effectively reduce the long-term burden of an aging society on future taxpayers, increase the expected future income of retirees, and mitigate poverty rates among the elderly.

469 pages | 50 line drawings, 83 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2001

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Economics--Development, Growth, Planning, Economics--History

Table of Contents



1. Redistribution in the Current U.S. Social
Security System

2. Gauranteed Income: SSI and the Well-Being
of the Elderly Poor

3. The Impact of Social Security and Other Factors
on the Distribution of Wealth

4. Social Security and Inequality over the Life Cycle

5. Long-Run Effects of Social Security Reform
Proposals on Lifetime Progressivity

6. Social Security’s Treatment of Postwar
Americans: How Bad Can It Get?

7. The Distributional Effects of an Investment-Based
Social Security System

8. Distributional Effects in a General Equilibrium
Analysis of Social Security

9. The Economics of Bequests in Pensions and
Social Security

10. Differential Mortality and the Value of
Individual Account Retirement Annuities

Appendix: Estimating Life Tables That Reflect
Socioeconomic Differences in Mortality

Author Index
Subject Index

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