UC Berkeley News
Social Security

Social Security

Ronald Lee
Professor of economics and demography, director of UC Berkeley's Center for the Demography and Economics of Aging, member of the National Advisory Council on Aging

Aging, Social Security, U.S. Census data.

Office phone: ( 510) 642-4535
E-mail: rlee@demog.berkeley.edu

Additional contacts:
Noel Gallagher, Media Relations: (510) 643-7944, noelgallagher@berkeley.edu
Roxanne Makasdjian, broadcast: (510) 642-6051, roxannem@berkeley.edu

Lee is director of UC Berkeley's Center for the Demography and Economics of Aging, one of 11 centers established by the National Institute on Aging that form part of the national infrastructure for developing the emerging field of the demography of aging.

Lee is the author of numerous articles, papers and publications. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Economic Association, the Population Association of America, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, the European Society for Population Economies, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He has also served as a consultant to the Social Security Administration and was a member of the Census Advisory Committee on Population Statistics for the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Comments on Social Security:
Lee has testified before the Senate Budget Committee and was an advisor to the Social Security Administration for his work on forecasting aging. After his work suggested that Social Security forecasts of future life expectancy were too low, Social Security actuaries raised their projections and now differ little from his projections.

Lee believes the current problems are serious — but not a crisis — and that the Bush administration is correct in using the "infinite horizon" instead of the current 75-year projection to tabulate the system's finances. The actuaries report an "infinite horizon" estimate of 3.5 percent, about twice as large as the 75-year figure. But Lee's calculations place the measure even higher, at 5.2 percent.


Ronald Lee

Roll Tape: Lee on Social Security
Ronald Lee on video Why a 75-year horizon isn't long enough to assess Social Security's viability
 Curing Social Security through immigration: "The difficulty is that immigrants eventually grow old ... and they become costly themselves."
 Global challenge of retirement savings: "The US problem is really quite small relative to the typical problem in the industrial world."

Q&A: Demography of Social Security's problem 'is not overwhelming'

  • Recent articles include:
    • "Who Wins and Who Loses? Public transfer accounts for U.S. generations born 1850-2090," paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, April 2004, and at the National Bureau of Economic Research Institute on the Economics of Aging, August 2004. Antoine Bommier, Ronald Lee, and Timothy Miller.
    • "Quantifying Our Ignorance: Stochastic Forecasts of Population and Public Budgets" for a special supplement to the Population and Development Review (2004).
  • Bio
    • A native of New York, Lee earned his B.A. in philosophy at Reed College in 1963, his M.A. in demography at UC Berkeley in 1967, and his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University in 1971.
  • Other info