Mathematical Constraints on Financially Viable Public Policy
12 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2012
Date Written: January 5, 2012
Social Security and other public policies can be viewed as a series of cash in and outflows that depend on parameters such as the age distribution of the population and the retirement age. Given forecasts of these parameters, policies can be designed to be financially stable, i.e., to terminate with a zero balance. If reality deviates from the forecasts, policies normally terminate with a surplus or a deficit. We derive constraints on the cash flows of robust policies that terminate with zero balance even in the presence of forecasting errors. Social Security and most similar policies are not robust. We show that non-trivial robust policies exist and provide a recipe for constructing robust extensions of non-robust policies. An example illustrates our results.
Keywords: Social Security, robust policy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation