Framing the Social Security Debate: Values, Politics, and Economics

January 29, 1998 January 30, 1998
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Timely reform is important because Social Security is the cornerstone of retirement security for American workers and their families. For over two decades, Social Security has provided more than half of the total income of two-thirds of elderly beneficiaries. Competing reform proposals reflect contrasting views about the nature of the problem and how to solve it.

Conferees examined issues about national savings and economic growth, the political risks and realities in reforms, lessons from private pensions developments in the United States, and the efforts of other advanced industrial countries to adapt their old-age pensions to an aging population. Speakers posed philosophical arguments about collective versus individual responsibility and the implications of market risks and political risks for stable and secure retirement income policy. The conference drew on findings from 18 months of work by the Academy's Panel on Evaluating Issues in Social Security Privatization.

Conference Co-chairs:

R. Douglas Arnold
Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University

Michael J. Graetz
Justus S. Hotchkiss Professor of Law, Yale University

Alicia H. Munnell
Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences, Boston College

A book of published proceedings, Framing the Social Security Debate: Values, Politics, and Economics, edited by R. Douglas Arnold, Michael J. Graetz, and Alicia H. Munnell, is available through the Brookings Institution Press at 800-275-1447.