NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Peter R. Orszag

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Working Papers

April 2017How the Growing Gap in Life Expectancy May Affect Retirement Benefits and Reforms
with Alan J. Auerbach, Kerwin K. Charles, Courtney C. Coile, William Gale, Dana Goldman, Ronald Lee, Charles M. Lucas, Louise M. Sheiner, Bryan Tysinger, David N. Weil, Justin Wolfers, Rebeca Wong: w23329
Older Americans have experienced dramatic gains in life expectancy in recent decades, but an emerging literature reveals that these gains are accumulating mostly to those at the top of the income distribution. We explore how growing inequality in life expectancy affects lifetime benefits from Social Security, Medicare, and other programs and how this phenomenon interacts with possible program reforms. We first project that life expectancy at age 50 for males in the two highest income quintiles will rise by 7 to 8 years between the 1930 and 1960 birth cohorts, but that the two lowest income quintiles will experience little to no increase over that time period. This divergence in life expectancy will cause the gap between average lifetime program benefits received by men in the highest an...
October 2005Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block
with Esther Duflo, William Gale, Jeffrey Liebman, Emmanuel Saez: w11680
This paper analyzes the effects of a large randomized field experiment carried out with H&R Block, offering matching incentives for IRA contributions at the time of tax preparation. About 14,000 H&R Block clients, across 60 offices in predominantly low- and middle-income neighborhoods in St. Louis, were randomly offered a 20 percent match on IRA contributions, a 50 percent match, or no match (the control group). The evaluation generates two main findings. First, higher match rates significantly raise IRA participation and contributions. Take-up rates were 3 percent for the control group, 8 percent in the 20 percent match group, and 14 percent in the 50 percent match group. Average IRA contributions (including non-contributors, excluding the match) for the 20 percent and 50 percent match gr...

Published: Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1311-1346, November. citation courtesy of

August 2002An Assessment of the Proposals of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security
with Peter A. Diamond: w9097
The President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security proposed three reform plans. Two, analyzed here, restore actuarial balance in the absence of individual accounts. One achieves this balance solely through benefit reductions. The other uses new dedicated revenue to cover one-third of the actuarial deficit, reducing benefits to close the rest. Both plans cut disability and young survivor benefits in step with retirement benefits, while bolstering benefits for long-career low earners and surviving spouses with low benefits. The plans both include voluntary individual accounts that replace part of the scaled-back Social Security system. Payroll taxes are diverted to the accounts and one of the plans also requires a (subsidized) add-on contribution for those choosing accounts. Under...

Published:

September 2000Does the Social Security Earnings Test Affect Labor Supply and Benefits Receipt?
with Jonathan Gruber: w7923
The Social Security earnings test, a version of which still applies to those ages 62-64, reduces immediate payments to beneficiaries whose labor income exceeds a given threshold. Although benefits are subsequently increased to compensate for any such reduction, the earnings test is typically perceived as a tax on working. As a result, it is considered by many to be an important disincentive to paid work for older Americans. Yet there is little evidence to suggest an economically significant effect of the earnings test on hours of work, and almost no research on the effect of the test on the decision to work at all. We investigate these issues using the significant changes in the structure of the earnings test over the past 25 years, using data over the past 25 years, using data over the...

Published: Gruber, Jonathan and Peter Orszag. "Does The Social Security Earnings Test Affect Labor Supply And Benefits Receipt?," National Tax Journal, 2003, v56(4,Dec), 755-773. citation courtesy of

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