A Historical Welfare Analysis of Social Security: Whom Did the Program Benefit?
A well-established result in the literature is that Social Security tends to reduce steady state welfare in a standard life cycle model. However, less is known about the historical effects of the program on agents who were alive when the program was adopted. In a computational life cycle model that simulates the Great Depression and the enactment of Social Security, this paper quantifies the welfare effects of the program's enactment on the cohorts of agents who experienced it. In contrast to the standard steady state results, we find that the adoption of the original Social Security tended ...
Optimal Public Debt with Life Cycle Motives
Public debt can be optimal in standard incomplete market models with infinitely lived agents, since the associated capital crowd-out induces a higher interest rate. The higher interest rate encourages individuals to save and, hence, better self-insure against idiosyncratic labor earnings risk. Even though individual savings behavior is a crucial determinant of the optimality of public debt, this class of economies abstracts from empirically observed life cycle savings patterns. Thus, this paper studies how incorporating a life cycle affects optimal public debt. We find that while the ...
Fiscal Policy and Aggregate Demand in the U.S. Before, During and Following the Great Recession
We examine the effect of federal and subnational fiscal policy on aggregate demand in the U.S. by introducing the fiscal effect (FE) measure. FE can be decomposed into three components. Discretionary FE quantifies the effect of discretionary or legislated policy changes on aggregate demand. Cyclical FE captures the effect of the automatic stabilizers--changes in government taxes and spending arising from the business cycle. Residual FE measures the effect of all changes in government revenues and outlays which cannot be categorized as either discretionary or cyclical; for example, it captures ...
Reconciling micro and macro estimates of the Frisch labor supply elasticity
There are large differences between the microeconometeric estimates of the Frisch labor supply elasticity (0-0.5) and the values used by macroeconomists to calibrate general equilibrium models (2-4). The microeconometric estimates of the Frisch are typically estimated by regressing changes in hours on changes in wages conditional on the individual being a married male head of household, working some minimum number of hours and being of prime working age. In contrast macroeconomic calibration values are typically set such that fluctuations in a general equilibrium model match the observed ...
Examining contributions to core consumer inflation measures
The purpose of this paper is to examine the composition of inflation over time. The authors calculate the contributions to inflation for individual series of the consumer price index (CPI) and personal consumption expenditures price index (PCEPI) and then aggregate those contributions into major consumer expenditure categories. This technique provides a wealth of information concerning aggregate inflation behavior in a concise way, enabling the authors to describe the composition of inflation at any point in time. A particularly important benefit of this method is that it allows them to ...
The Green Dividend Dilemma: Carbon Dividends Versus Double-Dividends
By raising the price of carbon-emitting energy sources, a carbon tax would flexibly incentivize households and businesses to reduce fossil fuel consumption and substitute towards cleaner energy sources. A carbon tax would also generate a substantial stream of government revenue. This raises an important question – how should this revenue be used? In this note, we summarize findings from our recent research (Fried et al. (2018)) that examine this question.
The Macro Effects of Climate Policy Uncertainty
Uncertainty surrounding if and when the U.S. government will implement a federalclimate policy introduces risk into the decision to invest in capital used in conjunction withfossil fuels. To quantify the macroeconomic impacts of this climate policy risk, we developa dynamic, general equilibrium model that incorporates beliefs about future climate policy.We find that climate policy risk reduces carbon emissions by causing the capital stock toshrink and become relatively cleaner. Our results reveal, however, that a carbon tax couldachieve the same reduction in emissions at less than half the ...
The Distributional Effects of a Carbon Tax on Current and Future Generations
This paper examines the non-environmental welfare effects of introducing a revenue- neutral carbon tax policy. Using a life cycle model, we find that the welfare effects of the policy differ substantially for agents who are alive when the policy is enacted compared to those who are born into the new steady state with the carbon tax in place. Consistent with previous studies, we demonstrate that, for those born in the new steady state, the welfare costs are always lower when the carbon tax revenue is used to reduce an existing distortionary tax as opposed to being returned in the form of ...
As U.S. core inflation measures have declined in recent years, analysts have renewed their efforts to understand inflation dynamics. A common approach to this issue is to make inferences about how price changes of major components affect the aggregate inflation rate. This article takes a more rigorous approach, calculating and plotting the precise contributions of major consumer expenditure categories to core inflation measures over time. ; This technique has distinct advantages. It highlights the underlying trends in inflation, enabling analysts to make more informed inferences about the ...
Taxing Capital? The Importance of How Human Capital is Accumulated
This paper considers the impact of how human capital is accumulated on optimal capital tax policy in a life cycle model. In particular, it compares the optimal capital tax when human capital is accumulated exogenously, endogenously through learning-by-doing, and endogenously through learning-or-doing. Previous work demonstrates that in a simple two generation life cycle model with exogenous human capital accumulation, if the utility function is separable and homothetic in each consumption and labor, then the government has no motive to condition taxes on age or tax capital. In contrast, this ...