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Jel Classification:H55 

Working Paper
Optimal Paternalistic Savings Policies

We study optimal savings policies when there is a dual concern about undersaving for retirement and income inequality. Agents differ in present bias and earnings ability, both unobservable to a planner with paternalistic and redistributive motives. We characterize the solution to this two-dimensional screening problem and provide a decentralization using realistic policy instruments: mandatory savings at low incomes but a choice between subsidized savings vehicles at high incomes?resembling Social Security, 401(k), and IRA accounts in the US. Offering more savings choice at higher incomes ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 17

Working Paper
Designing Unemployment Insurance for Developing Countries

The benefits of implementing Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts (UISAs) are studied in the presence of the multiple sources of information frictions often existing in developing countries. A benchmark incomplete markets economy is calibrated to Mexico in the early 2000s. The unconstrained optimal allocation would imply very large welfare gains relative to the benchmark economy (similar to an increase in consumption of 23% in every period). More importantly, in presence of multiple sources of information frictions, about half of those potential gains can be accrued through the ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-6

Journal Article
How Does Informal Employment Affect the Design of Unemployment Insurance and Employment Protection?

The authors use a simple model to study the optimal design of unemployment insurance and employment protection. Workers are risk averse and face the possibility of unemployment. Firms are risk neutral and face random shocks to productivity. Workers can participate in a shadow economy, or informal sector. The model yields several lessons. First, countries should encourage formal employment to address the issue of informal employment. In extreme cases, such encouragement translates into high severance payments and negative payroll taxes. Along these same lines, unemployment payments cannot be ...
Review , Volume 97 , Issue 2

Working Paper
The Effects of Collecting Income Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Since 1983, Social Security benefits have been subject to income taxation, a provision that can significantly increase the marginal income tax rate for older individuals. To assess the impact of this tax, we construct and calibrate a detailed life-cycle model of labor supply, saving, and Social Security claiming. We find that in a long-run stationary environment, replacing the taxation of Social Security benefits with a revenue-equivalent increase in the payroll tax would significantly increase labor supply, consumption and welfare. From an ex-ante perspective an even more desirable reform ...
Working Paper , Paper 17-2

Working Paper
Flexible Retirement and Optimal Taxation

This paper studies optimal insurance against private idiosyncratic shocks in a life-cycle model with intensive labor supply and endogenous retirement. In this environment, the optimal labor tax is hump-shaped in age: insurance benefits of taxation push for increasing-in-age taxes while rising labor supply elasticities and optimal late retirement of highly productive workers push for lowering taxes for old workers. In calibrated numerical simulations, the optimum achieves sizable welfare gains that age-dependent taxes do not deliver under the status quo US Social Security. Nevertheless, an ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-18

Working Paper
Lifecycle Patterns of Saving and Wealth Accumulation

Empirical analysis of U.S. income, saving and wealth dynamics is constrained by a lack of high-quality and comprehensive household-level panel data. This paper uses a pseudo-panel approach, tracking types of agents by birth cohort and across time through a series of cross-section snapshots synthesized with macro aggregates. The key micro source data is the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which captures the top of the wealth distribution by sampling from administrative records. The SCF has the detailed balance sheet components, incomes, and interfamily transfers needed to use both sides of ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2019-010

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-92

Working Paper
The Evolution of Retirement Wealth

Is the current mix of tax preferences for employer-sponsored pensions and individual retirement saving in the U.S. delivering the best possible retirement-preparedness across and within generations? Using data from the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances for 1989 through 2013, cohort-based analysis of life-cycle trajectories shows that (1) overall retirement plan participation was relatively stable or even rising through 2007, though participation fell noticeably in the wake of the Great Recession and has remained lower, (2) participation is strongly correlated with income, and the shift in ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-9

Working Paper
The Implications of a graying japan for government policy

Japan is in the midst of a demographic transition that is both rapid and large by international standards. As recently as 1990, Japan had the youngest population among the Group of 6 large, developed countries. However, the combined effects of aging of the baby boomer generation and low fertility rates have produced very rapid aging. Japan now finds itself with the oldest population among the Group of 6, and its population will continue to age at a rapid pace in future years. Aging is already placing a burden on government finances, and Japan's ability to confront the negative fiscal ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2014-18

Working Paper
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 ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2013-02

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