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Old, sick, alone, and poor: a welfare analysis of old-age social insurance programs
Poor health, large acute and long-term care medical expenses, and spousal death are significant drivers of impoverishment among retirees. We document these facts and build a rich, overlapping generations model that reproduces them. We use the model to assess the incentive and welfare effects of Social Security and means-tested social insurance programs such as Medicaid and food stamp programs, for the aged. We find that U.S. means-tested social insurance programs for retirees provide significant welfare benefits for all newborn. Moreover, when means-tested social insurance benefits are of the ...
On the aggregate and distributional implications of productivity differences across countries
We develop a quantitative theory of human capital with heterogeneous agents in order to assess the sources of cross-country income differences. The cross-sectional implications of the theory and U.S. data are used to restrict the parameters of human capital technology. We then assess the model's ability to explain the cross-country data. Our quantitative model generates a total-factor-productivity (TFP) elasticity of output per worker of 2.8. This implies that a factor of 3 difference in TFP is amplified through physical and human capital accumulation to generate a factor of 20 difference in ...
The impact of medical and nursing home expenses and social insurance
We consider a life-cycle model with idiosyncratic risk in earnings, out-of-pocket medical and nursing home expenses, and survival. Partial insurance is available through welfare, Medicaid, and social security. Calibrating the model to the United States, we show that (1) savings for old-age, out-of-pocket expenses account for 13.5 percent of aggregate wealth, half of which is due to nursing home expenses; (2) cross-sectional out-of-pocket nursing home risk accounts for 3 percent of aggregate wealth and substantially slows down wealth decumulation at older ages; (3) the impact of medical and ...
Old, Frail, and Uninsured: Accounting for Puzzles in the U.S. Long-Term Care Insurance Market
Half of U.S. 50-year-olds will experience a nursing home stay before they die, and one in ten will incur out-of-pocket long-term care expenses in excess of $200,000. Surprisingly, only about 10% of individuals over age 62 have private long-term care insurance (LTCI). This paper proposes a quantitative equilibrium optimal contracting model of the LTCI market that features screening along the extensive margin. Frail and/or poor risk groups are ordered a single contract of no insurance that we refer to as a rejection. According to our model, rejections are the main reason that LTCI take-up rates ...
Causes and Consequences of Student-College Mismatch
College admissions are highly meritocratic in the U.S. today. It is not the case in many other countries. What is the tradeoff? On one hand, meritocracy produces more human capital overall if higher ability students learn more in college and if they learn more in higher quality colleges. This leads to a higher overall level of earnings (i.e. greater efficiency, loosely speaking). On the other hand, more meritocracy generates a higher degree of earnings inequality. In this paper, we quantify this efficiency-equality tradeoff. Our results suggest small efficiency losses/gains from student ...