Social Security as a Financial Asset: Gender-Specific Risks and Returns
NBER Working Paper No. 8329
Social Security is a financial asset whose 'purchase' is compulsory for most working individuals; the return during the individual's working lifetime is related to the rate of change of aggregate labor income. If an individual's labor income is strongly related to aggregate labor income, then the Social Security asset is a particularly unattractive asset. In this situation, the individual would benefit from a reformed Social Security system that would permit investment of retirement funds in other financial assets. This paper investigates how this aspect of Social Security risk varies across groups of individuals who differ according to gender; education; race; and age. The main finding is that there are important differences across groups in this component of Social Security risk, as captured by the sensitivity of individual-level income growth to changes in the SSWI. This element of risk is most important for women, especially women who are young-to-middle aged and with more education. This analysis suggests that women would have more to gain, compared with men, from a reformed Social Security system.
Published: Baxter, Marianne. "Social Security as a Financial Asset: Gender-Specific Risks and Returns." Journal of Pension Economics and Finance 1, 1 (March 2002): 35-52.