nep-age New Economics Papers
on Economics of Ageing
Issue of 2007‒05‒19
four papers chosen by
Claudia Villosio
LABORatorio R. Revelli

  1. Rise of 401(k) Plans, Lifetime Earnings, and Wealth at Retirement By James Poterba; Steven F. Venti; David A. Wise
  2. Pension reform and the socioeconomic status of older people in Britain and Germany By Ginn, Jay; Fachinger, Uwe; Schmähl, Winfried
  3. Older Workers' Access to Employer-Sponsored Retiree Health Insurance, 2000-2004 By Christine Eibner; Alice Zawacki; Elaine Zimmerman
  4. Variable Retirement and the Effects of Social Insurance on Savings, Wealth, and Welfare By Bruce, Neil; Turnovsky, Stephen J.

  1. By: James Poterba; Steven F. Venti; David A. Wise
    Abstract: Saving through private pensions has been an important complement to Social Security in providing for the financial needs of older Americans. In the past twenty five years, however, there has been a dramatic change in private retirement saving. Personal retirement accounts have replaced defined benefit pension plans as the primary means of retirement saving. It is important to understand how this change will affect the wealth of future retirees. The personal retirement account system is not yet mature. A person who retired in 2000, for example, could have contributed to a 401(k) for at most 18 years and the typical 401(k) participant had only contributed for a little over seven years. Nonetheless, current 401(k) assets are quite large. We consider in this paper the implications of rising 401(k) saving through the year 2040. In particular, we emphasize the growth of the sum of Social Security wealth and 401(k) assets for families in each decile of the Social Security wealth distribution. Our projections show a substantial increase between 2000 and 2040 in the sum of these retirement assets in each wealth decile. We also consider the accumulation of 401(k) assets by families in different deciles of the distribution of lifetime earnings.
    JEL: G23 J11 J14 J32
    Date: 2007–05
  2. By: Ginn, Jay; Fachinger, Uwe; Schmähl, Winfried
    Abstract: The paper outlines in short the development of old age security systems in the United Kingdom and Germany and shows the current state of the socio-economic status of the elderly. We start with a brief and only the basic conception characterizing description of the old age security systems, followed by a presentation of the political discussion and the development of the law since 2000. Then the current old age policy is evaluated on the basis of four criteria: Income adequacy for pensioners, degree of inequality of pensioner incomes, sustainability of pension schemes and maintenance of incentives to save. This is followed by a brief outline of the emerging challenges over the next ten years. Finally some conclusions are drawn, which occur from the analysis.
    Keywords: old age security system; socio-economic status; old age policy; elderly
    JEL: J26 I38
    Date: 2007–04
  3. By: Christine Eibner; Alice Zawacki; Elaine Zimmerman
    Abstract: Using a multivariate framework, we analyze recent trends in employer provision of retiree health insurance (RHI), eligibility for new retirees, and retiree contribution requirements. We also explore whether local labor market characteristics such as the unemployment rate influence RHI provision. Finally, we examine whether the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) was associated with diverging trends in RHI access for Medicare-eligible and early retirees. Data come for the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey—Insurance Component (MEPS-IC). We find that, while RHI provision to existing retirees remained stable, eligibility for new retirees declined, and contribution requirements increased between 2000 and 2004. The local labor market had no effect on RHI provision. While early retiree coverage was more common than coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees, we did not find a divergence subsequent to MMA. These results suggest growing financial instability for retirees, both because RHI contribution requirements increased, and because businesses dropped coverage for new retirees.
    Keywords: retiree health insurance, employers, Medicare, aging
    Date: 2007–04
  4. By: Bruce, Neil; Turnovsky, Stephen J.
    Abstract: We construct a Blanchard-style overlapping generations model consisting of long-lived individuals who have uninsurable idiosyncratic risk resulting from uncertain retirement periods and medical costs in retirement. Without social insurance, such individuals must save for these eventualities. We examine the impact of pay-as-you-go social insurance policies (public pensions and medicare coverage) on individual and aggregate consumption, saving, and wealth levels as well as wealth distribution. We also derive expressions for optimal (Pareto improving) social insurance policies.
    JEL: D91 E10 J20
    Date: 2007

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