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Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment

Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment analyzes the changing economic and demographic environment in which social insurance programs that benefit elderly households will operate.  It also explores how these ongoing trends will affect future beneficiaries, under both the current social security program and potential reform options.    In this volume, an esteemed group of economists probes the challenge posed to Social Security by an aging population.  The researchers examine trends in private sector retirement saving and health care costs, as well as the uncertain nature of future demographic, economic, and social trends—including marriage and divorce rates and female participation in the labor force. Recognizing the ambiguity of the environment in which the Social Security system must operate and evolve, this landmark book explores factors that policymakers must consider in designing policies that are resilient enough to survive in an economically and demographically uncertain society.

472 pages | 114 line drawings, 54 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Economics--General Theory and Principles, Economics--Government Finance

Table of Contents




Jeffrey R. Brown, Jeffrey Liebman and David A. Wise

I. Innovative Approaches to Social Security Reform

1. Removing the Disincentives in Social Security for Long Careers

Gopi Shah Goda, John B. Shoven, and Sita Nataraj Slavov

Comment: Erzo F.P. Luttmer

2. Notional Defined Contribution Pension Systems in a Stochastic Context: Design and Stability

Alan J. Auerbach and Ronald Lee

Comment: Jeffrey Liebman


3. Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts

John Geanakoplos and Stephen P. Zeldes

Comment: Jason Furman

II. Retirement Plan Choice

4. Who Chooses Defined Contribution Plans?

Jeffrey R. Brown and Scott J. Weisbenner

Comment: Brigitte C. Madrian

5. The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Saving Outcomes: Evidence from the United States

John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte C. Madrian

Comment: Jeffrey R. Brown



III. Reducing Financial Market Risk in Personal Retirement Accounts

6. Reducing the Risk of Investment-Based Social Security Reform

Martin Feldstein

Comment: David W. Wilcox

7. Pricing Personal Account Benefit Guarantees: A Simplified Approach

Andrew Biggs, Clark Burdick, and Kent Smetters

Comment: George G. Pennacchi

8. Reducing Social Security PRA Risk at the Individual Level – Lifecycle Funds and No-loss Strategies

James M. Poterba, Joshua Rauh, Steven F. Venti, and David A. Wise

Comment: Douglas W. Elmendorf

9. Changing Progressivity as a Means of Risk Protection in Investment-Based Social Security

Andrew A. Samwick

Comment: Michael Hurd

IV. Demographics, Asset Flows and Macroeconomic Markets

10. The Decline of Defined Benefit Retirement Plans and Asset Flows

James M. Poterba, Steven F. Venti, and David A. Wise

Comment: Jonathan Skinner

11. Demographic Change, Relative Factor Prices, International Capital Flows, and their Differential Effects on the Welfare of Generations

Alexander Ludwig, Dirk Krüger, and Axel Börsch-Supan

Comment: James M. Poterba

V. Mortality Projections

12. Is the U.S. Population Behaving Healthier?

David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser, and Allison B. Rosen

Comment: James P. Smith

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