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Joseph Stiglitz, Aaron Edlin, and J. Bradford DeLong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143653

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.001.0001

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The Many Definitions of Social Security Privatization

The Many Definitions of Social Security Privatization

Chapter:
(p.120) Chapter 14 The Many Definitions of Social Security Privatization
Source:
The Economists' Voice
Author(s):

Don Fullerton

Michael Geruso

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.003.0014

Debate over Social Security privatization has exploded in the United States over the past decade. The debate, however, is often muddied by the fact that participants are using different definitions of the term “privatization.” This chapter explores the many possible meanings of the concept of privatization of Social Security. It argues that debate about the potential benefits and costs needs to make clear what definition is intended: fully private accounts, equivalent in all ways to a private pension? Or something less than this, such as a move from defined benefit to defined contributions or a move from mandatory to voluntary contributions? Deliberately specifying these attributes will make explicit the connection between proposed changes and supposed benefits. This protects against having some desirable effect of privatization become the hostage of a broader set of changes that are not necessary to achieve it.

Keywords:   Social Security system, privatization, public pensions, private accounts

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