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Economic Transfers in the United States

In recent years the definition of an economic transfer—a payment to an individual or institution that does not arise out of current productive activity—has been subject to even wider interpretation. This volume addresses that trend and introduces new methods of measuring transfers in the American economy.

Social security, private pension benefits, housing, and health care are traditional kinds of transfers. Accurate measurements of the degree and effect of these and of other, newly interpreted transfers are vital to economic policy making. Though this volume is not directly concerned with policy-making issues, it does impinge on many areas of current public concern; methods of transfer valuation, for example, may affect how we view the status of the aged.

Researchers, policy analysts, and those who compile statistics on which social programs are based on will value the diverse approaches of these ten papers and their accompanying comments. Taken together the essays give great insight into the complexities of defining transfers and provide a wealth of new analytic methods. They were developed from material presented at the Income and Wealth Conference on Social Accounting for Transfers held at Madison, Wisconsin, in 1982.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Marilyn Moon
1. Transfers in a Total Incomes System of Accounts
Robert Eisner
2. An Accounting Framework for Transfer Payments and Its Implications for the Size Distribution of Income
Edward C. Budd, Daniel B. Radner, and T. Cameron Whiteman
Comment: Robert Lampman
3. Transfer Elements in the Taxation of Income from Capital
Harvey Galper and Eric Toder
Comment: Benjamin A. Okner
4. Approaches to Measuring and Valuing In-Kind Subsidies and the Distribution of Their Benefits
Timothy M. Smeeding
Comment: Janice Peskin
5. The Effect of Different Measures of Benefit on Estimates of the Distributive Consequences of Government Programs
Edgar O. Olsen and Kathy A. York
Comment: Robert Hutchens
6. The Role of Time in the Measurement of Transfers and Well-Being
James N. Morgan
Comment: Daniel S. Hamermesh
7. Income Transfers and the Economic Status of the Elderly
Sheldon Danziger, Jacques van der Gaag, Eugene Smolensky, and Michael K. Taussig
Comment: Barbara Boyle Torrey
8. The Role of Income Transfers in Reducing Inequality between and within Regions
David Betson and Robert Haveman
Comment: Peter Gottschalk
9. Trends in Social Security Wealth by Cohort
Robert Moffitt
Comment: Joseph F. Quinn
10. Raising the Normal Retirement Age under Social Security: A Life-Cycle Analysis
Jennifer L. Warlick and Richard V. Burkhauser
List of Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index

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