NBER Working Papers by Jan Walliser

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Working Papers

April 2001Finding a Way Out of America's Demographic Dilemma
with Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Kent Smetters: w8258
Notwithstanding the rosy short-term fiscal scenarios being advanced in Washington, the demographic transition presents the United States with a very serious fiscal crisis. In 30 years there will be twice the number of elderly, but only 15 percent more workers to help pay Social Security and Medicare benefits. A realistic reading of the government demographic projections suggests a two thirds increase in payroll tax rates over the next three to five decades. However, these forecasts ignore macroeconomic feedback effects. In particular, they ignore the possibility that the nation will have more capital per worker as the number of elderly wealth-holders rises relative to the number of young workers. More capital per worker would mean higher worker productivity, higher real wages, and th...
February 1998Social Security: Privatization and Progressivity
with Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Kent A. Smetters: w6428
This paper uses a large-scale overlapping generations model that features intragenerational heterogeneity to show that privatizing the U.S. Social Security System could be done on a progressive basis. We start with a close replica of the current system; specifically, we include Social Security's progressive linkages between taxes paid and benefits received. The paper compares achieving progressivity as part of privatization reform by a) providing a pay-as-you-go-financed minimum benefit to all agents at retirement independent of their contributions and b) matching contributions to private retirement accounts on a progressive basis. Although a pay-as-you-go-financed minimum benefit can enhance progressivity, it comes at the cost of substantially smaller long-run macroeconomic and welfare...
Opting Out of Social Security and Adverse Selection
with Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Kent A. Smetters: w6430
This paper compares two general methods of privatization social security: forced participation in the new privatized system vs. letting people choose between the new system or staying in social security (i.e., opting out). Simulations are performed using a large scale perfect-foresight OLG simulation model that incorporates both intra-generational and inter-generational heterogeneity. The decision of any agent to opt out is endogenous and depends on the opting out decisions of all other agents vis-…-vis factor prices. Various tax bases are considered in financing the transition path, as well as the perceived tax-benefit linkage due to the informational problems inherent in many social security systems. We consider two cases: full and no perception Both methods of privatizing social secur...
October 1997Simulating U.S. Tax Reform
with David Altig, Alan J. Auerbach, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Kent A. Smetters: w6248
This paper uses a new large-scale dynamic simulation model to compare the equity, efficiency, and macroeconomic effects of five alternative to the current U.S. federal income tax. These reforms are a proportional income tax, a proportional consumption tax, a flat tax, a flat tax with transition relief, and a progressive variant of the flat tax called the 'X tax.' The model incorporates intragenerational heterogeneity and kinked budget constraints. It predicts major macroeconomic gains (including an 11 percent increase in long-run output) from replacing the federal tax system with a proportional consumption tax. Future middle- and upper-income classes gain from this policy, but initial older generations are hurt by the policy's implicit capital levy. Poor members of current and future ge...

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