Relaxing Household Liquidity Constraints through Social Security
40 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020 Last revised: 27 Feb 2021
Date Written: May 4, 2020
More than a quarter of working-age households in the United States do not have sufficient savings to cover their expenditures after a month of unemployment. Recent proposals suggest giving workers early access to a small portion of their future Social Security benefits to finance their consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. We empirically analyze their impact. Relying on data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, we build a measure of households' expected time to cash shortfall based on the incidence of COVID-induced unemployment. We show that access to 1% of future benefits allows 75% of households to maintain their current consumption for three months in case of unemployment. We then compare the efficacy of access to Social Security benefits to already legislated approaches, including early access to retirement accounts, stimulus relief checks, and expanded unemployment insurance.
Keywords: COVID-19, Social Security, Household Finance
JEL Classification: E21, G51, H55, H12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation