The Internationalization of the Social Security Problem
Albert Fishlow and Patrick J. DeSouza
The rallying cries of the Clinton Administration and the Republican Congress of finally saving social security have now captured American public attention. For years, while there were budget deficits, the issue could not be touched. Now that the budget is balanced--largely by including the substantial current annual social security surplus--the issue has surfaced. President Clinton's major argument against a tax cut was the need to provide additional funds for social security. With a presidential election up for grabs, the issue is very much on the agenda.
The U.S. situation is similar to that of most other developed countries, but at the same time, as a relative matter, less pressing. That circumstance occurs for three reasons. First, the U.S. underlying change in a rising percentage of the dependent population in the future is much smaller than in Europe and Japan; the major reason, ironically, is the extensive immigration the U.S. has experienced. Second, the existing social security system in the United States is not as pressed as those of other countries providing greater assis-