Should Social Security and Medicare Be More Market-Based?

Daniel Shaviro

New York University School of Law

December 1, 2012

NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-41

Contemporary political debate about Social Security and Medicare often conflates the issue of the programs’ long-term fiscal sustainability with that of whether their design should be made more market-based, such as by transforming Social Security into a private accounts program and Medicare into a voucher-based program. In fact, the sustainability and design issues are fundamentally separate.

This article assesses the case for making the programs more market-based by using two main conceptual vehicles: (1) the model for understanding the programs’ substantive features and rationales that I offered in my books, Making Sense of Social Security Reform and Who Should Pay for Medicare?, and (2) Paul Samuelson’s classic description of Social Security as providing what we would now call an implicit financial instrument that reflects an intergenerational compact. In the end, it reaches largely skeptical conclusions about altering the programs to use either private accounts or vouchers.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 78

Keywords: Social Security, Medicare, private accounts, Ryan Medicare plan

JEL Classification: H1, H2, H4, H5, I1

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Date posted: November 28, 2012 ; Last revised: January 17, 2013

Suggested Citation

Shaviro, Daniel, Should Social Security and Medicare Be More Market-Based? (December 1, 2012). NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-41. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2181717 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2181717

Contact Information

Daniel Shaviro (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
Room 314-B
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-998-6187 (Phone)
212-995-4341 (Fax)

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