Prospects for Social Security Reform

9780812234794: Hardback
Release Date: 29th January 1999

Dimensions: 155 x 235

Number of Pages: 424

Series Pension Research Council Publications

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Prospects for Social Security Reform

Aging populations are stressing underfunded national social security systems. From the Pension Research Council of the Wharton School, this book explores proposals to reform social security, including privatization, means-testing, and raising retirement ages, as well as tax and benefit changes. Economists, actuaries, gerontologists, and academics join in a search for viable solutions, drawing lessons from the global context.

Hardback / £77.00

The United States social security system is the nation's largest social insurance program. As such, it has a far-reaching impact throughout the economy, influencing not only old-age economic security but also many behaviors, including corporate employment policy, retirement patterns, and personal saving. In the past, the system's universal coverage and generous benefits ensured popular support to a degree enjoyed by no other form of "big government" social spending.

Yet over two-thirds of all Americans today believe that the social security system will face bankruptcy by the time they retire. The question of social security reform—how to reform the system or whether the system needs reform at all—is the subject of heated debate at all levels of government, in the media, and among workers, pensioners, and employers.

Prospects for Social Security Reform informs the debate by exploring why the system is at a crossroads today and what to do about it. Contributors detail the size and nature of the problem, explain views of key "stakeholders" regarding reform options, and report new evidence on how reform might affect the economy. Research findings and public opinion polls are analyzed, as are lessons from other countries experimenting with new ways to deliver old-age benefit promises.

No other volume includes as diverse and expert a set of perspectives on reform and privatization as those gathered here from economists, actuaries, employers, investment managers, and representatives of organized labor. Among its chapters is the path-breaking study "Social Security Money's Worth," the 1999 winner of the TIAA-CREF's Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security.


1. An Overview of the Issues
2. Measuring Solvency in the Social Security System
3. Criteria for Evaluating Social Security Reform
4. New Opportunities for the Social Security System

5. Social Security Money's Worth
6. Simulating Benefit Levels Under Alternative Social Security Reforms
7. Stochastic Simulation of Economic Growth Effects
8. Thinking About Social Security's Trust Fund
9. Government Guarantees for Old Age Income
10. Means Testing Social Security
11. Social Security and Employer Induced Retirement

12. Compliance in Social Security Systems Around the World
13. Employer Responses to Social Security Reform
14. An Actuarial Perspective on How Social Security Reform Could Influence Employer-Sponsored Pensions
15. An Organized Labor Perspective on Social Security Reform
16. Women as Widows Under a Reformed Social Security System
17. Investment and Administrative Constraints on Individual Social Security Accounts
18. Americans' Views of Social Security and Social Security Reforms


Olivia S. Mitchell is Executive Director of the Pension Research Council and Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Robert J. Myers is a Special Consultant to the Social Security Division of William M. Mercer, Inc. and former Chief Actuary of the Social Security System. Howard Young is a former Special Consultant to the President of the United Auto Workers Union and former Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan.

"This latest installment in the Pension Research Council series brings together a wealth of information for those concerned with public policy options. . . .The book is substantive. . . . It provides data, estimates, models, and a framework to help readers think about the underlying problems in the system."—Industrial and Labor Relations Review