Social Security: What Role for the Future?

January 25, 1996 January 26, 1996
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Recent reports predict that, barring any changes, the Social Security program will become insolvent - no longer able to pay promised benefits in full - around the year 2030, well within the retirement years of the baby boom generation. The reports also predict that the trust fund will stop being a net contributor and will become instead a net claimant on the federal budget in the year 2013 - much earlier than previously thought. With the world population aging (in some areas quite rapidly), the increasing number of dependent senior citizens will become a major public policy issue that will have to be addressed continually over the next fifty years.

This conference took a fresh look at the questions essential to understanding the future of old-age protection under Social Security. Experts in economics, actuarial science, and public policy examined front-burner issues such as:

  • the effects that variables such as mortality, births, inflation, wage levels, and pension benefits will have on the income of future retirees; and
  • the implications and efects of alternative levels of funding and financing on Social Security; and the prospects for publicly and privately financed income programs.

The conference concluded with an examination of social security programs around the world and posed critical questions about the furture direction of Social Security in the United States - questions that Congress and the American public will have to address in the coming years.

Conference Co-chairs:

Peter A. Diamond
Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David C. Lindeman
Pensions Specialist, The World Bank

Howard Young
Actuarial Consultant and Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, University of Michigan

A book of published proceedings, Social Security: What Role for the Future?, edited by Peter A. Diamond, David C. Lindeman, and Howard Young, is available through the Brookings Institution Press at 800-275-1447.