Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts

55 Pages Posted: 12 May 2008 Last revised: 13 Sep 2010

See all articles by John Geanakoplos

John Geanakoplos

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Stephen P. Zeldes

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2008

Abstract

The heated debate about how to reform Social Security has come to a standstill because the view of most Democrats (that Social Security must be a defined benefits plan similar in spirit to the current system) seems irreconcilable with the proposals supported by many Republicans (to create a defined contribution system of personal accounts holding marketed assets).We describe a system of "progressive personal accounts" that preserves the core goals of both parties, and that is self-balancing on an ongoing basis. Progressive personal accounts have two critical features: (1) accruals into the personal accounts would be exclusively in a new kind of derivative security (which we call a PAAW for Personal Annuitized Average Wage security) that pays its owner one inflation-corrected dollar during every year of life after his statutory retirement date, multiplied by the economy wide average wage at the retirement date and (2) households would buy their new PAAWs each year with their social security contributions, augmented or reduced by a government match that would add to contributions from households with low lifetime incomes by taking from households with high lifetime incomes. PAAWS define benefits and achieve risk sharing across generations, as Democrats would like, yet can be held in personal accounts with market valuations, as Republicans propose.

Suggested Citation

Geanakoplos, John D and Zeldes, Stephen P., Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts (May 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w13979. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1131632

John D Geanakoplos

Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States
203-432-3397 (Phone)
203-432-6167 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/au/d_gean.htm

Stephen P. Zeldes (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
Uris 825, Dept. of Finance & Economics
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-2492 (Phone)
212-208-4699 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~spz1

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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