NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Thomas Glass

Contact and additional information for this authorAll publicationsWorking Papers only

Working Papers

February 2000The Progressivity of Social Security
with Julia Lynn Coronado, Don Fullerton: w7520
How much does the current social security system really redistribute from rich to poor? We use the PSID to estimate lifetime wage profiles and actual earnings each year for a sample of 1778 individuals, and we use mortality probabilities to calculate expected payroll taxes and social security benefits. For a given set of facts' about the net flows received by each individual, measured progressivity depends on many assumptions. This paper attempts to capture and to quantify all of the individual characteristics that are relevant to determine the progressivity of a life-cycle program like social security. We proceed in seven steps. First, we classify individuals by annual income and use Gini coefficients to find that social security is highly progressive. Second, we reclassify individual...
Long Run Effects of Social Security Reform Proposals on Lifetime Progressivity
with Julia Lynn Coronado, Don Fullerton: w7568
This paper uses a lifetime framework to address questions about the progressivity of social security and proposed reforms. We use a large sample of diverse individuals from the PSID to calculate lifetime income, to classify individuals into income quintiles, and then to calculate the present value of taxes minus benefits for each person in each group. In our basic calculations, the current system is slightly progressive, overall, on a lifetime basis. Social Security would become slightly more progressive in one of the reform plans, and it would become slightly regressive in each of the other plans. The pattern of progressivity is affected by alternative assumptions, but it is affected in similar ways for the current system and proposed reforms. None of these reforms greatly alters the...
March 1999Distributional Impacts of Proposed Changes to the Social Security System
with Julia Lynn Coronado, Don Fullerton: w6989
In this paper we assess the degree to which the current social security system redistributes income from rich to poor. We then estimate the impact of various proposed changes to social security on the overall redistributive effect of the system. Our analysis takes a steady state approach in which we assume participants work their entire lives and retire under a given system. Redistribution is measured on a lifetime basis using estimated earnings profiles for a sample of people taken from the PSID. We account for differential mortality, not only by gender and race, but also be lifetime income. Our results indicate that the current social security system redistributes less than is generally perceived, mainly because people with higher lifetime income live longer and therefore draw benef...

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