Should the United States Privatize Social Security?

By Henry J. Aaron; John B. Shoven et al. | Go to book overview

Concluding Remarks

Let me conclude by emphasizing the last of the principles or goals listed earlier--namely do something as soon as possible. Politically, this is a tough problem. Social Security is popular (particularly with the elderly) and it is running a surplus. We know that it is not viable in its current form, however, and our choice is to fix it now or fix it later. If we fix it later, the problem only will be worse, much worse as figure 1.8 made clear. The vast size of the baby-boom generation is causing some of the problems facing Social Security, and they can help with the solution if we can put the new plan together within the next few years. If we fail and postpone action for another generation, we will have just transferred a massive problem to our children and grandchildren without making an honest attempt to contribute to the solution ourselves. The stakes are enormous and this is one of those cases where the right thing to do is clear. Let us announce the changes that will be made in a timely way and let us be part of the solution.


Notes

The author would like to thank Clemens Sialm for assistance and the members of the winter quarter Stanford freshman seminar for ideas and stimulation. Martin Feldstein and Sylvester Schieber kindly provided me with publications and prepublications.

1.
Workers appear to be aware of the risks they face on these "defined benefits," even exaggerate them. A recent survey of young workers rated the likelihood of several events happening before they retire. Regularly scheduled passenger trips to the moon and a total cure for AIDS were judged more likely to be accomplished than continued payment of benefits by Social Security (reported in USA Today, April 15, 1998).

-51-

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Should the United States Privatize Social Security?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note xii
  • 1: Social Security Reform: Two Tiers Are Better Than One 1
  • Notes 51
  • References 52
  • 2: Social Security: Tune It Up, Don'T Trade It In 55
  • Conclusion 108
  • Notes 109
  • References 111
  • 3: Comments 113
  • Note 123
  • Summary 132
  • Summary 132
  • References 133
  • Alicia H. Munnell 133
  • Conclusion 144
  • References 145
  • 4: Responses 155
  • Note 159
  • Note 168
  • 5: Rejoinder 169
  • Contributors 171
  • Index 173
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