UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Rx for Social Security
UC Berkeley experts diagnose the problem, suggest remedies for ailing retirement savings system

The nation's Social Security program is at the center of a national debate, thrust into the spotlight by President Bush's announcement that reforming the system is a primary goal for his second term. Several UC Berkeley professors are experts on various aspects of this sweeping debate, including the health of the Social Security system, the risks and benefits of privatization and how proposed changes would affect certain segments of our society.

Alan Auerbach
Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law and director of UC Berkeley’s Burch Center on Tax Policy and Public Finance

Q&A: Should we let people fend for themselves?
Professor Auerbach assesses the health of the Social Security system, the risks, benefits and motivations behind privatization, and assesses who would win and who would lose in a privatized system. More >

Alan Auerbach on videoVideo clips:
 "I think the crisis that the federal government faces is large, but Social Security is only a small part of it."
 The risks of privatizing Social Security.
 The "ownership society" may not translate well to retirement savings for the financially unsophisticated.

Ronald Lee
Professor of economics and demography, and director of UC Berkeley's Center for the Demography and Economics of Aging

Q&A: Demography of Social Security's problem 'is not overwhelming'
Professor Lee challenges critics who say the size of the looming Social Security deficit is being exaggerated, and compares the dimensions of the Social Security problem to other challenges facing the country and to similar retirement programs in other industrialized nations. More >

Ronald Lee on videoVideo clips:
 "Infinite horizon": Why 75 years 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 U.S. problem is really quite small relative to the typical problem in the industrial world"

Daniel McFadden
2000 Nobel Laureate in Economics and E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics

Q&A: Some people are going to choose badly; then what?
Professor McFadden looks at the plusses and minuses of private accounts, the likely impact on elderly Americans, and the politics behind the debate. More >

Ronald Lee on videoVideo clips:
 Private accounts "should be in addition to the current system, not a replacement for it."
 How private accounts should be set up: Increase individual cntributions, and manage the funds through competitive bidding
 "I think the risk of Social Security not being there [for today's young people] is primarily a political risk, not really an economic risk."

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