Social Security around the World I: Introduction

Social Security has done much to reduce poverty rates in the elderly.  The program, originally known as Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI), was signed into law in the United States by FDR in 1935.  At that time, poverty among elderly in the U.S. exceeded 50%.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities now…

Privatization of Roads

On Gary Becker and Richard Posner’s blog, there is a spirited debate regarding whether or not we should privatize roads in the United States.  The two focus on Indiana’s recent decision to sell the rights to collect tolls on the Indiana toll road to a Spanish-Australian consortium for $3.85 billion.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports in…

Off-label drug use is…good?!?!

I claim that ‘off label’ drug use is good.  But according to a recent Forbes article “the practice is potentially risky, since three-quarters of these off-label uses lack scientific support.”  The article (“Off-label…“) claims that this practice is very common and that one in five prescriptions for drugs are for an off-label use.and effective.  If…

Do we need specialty hospitals?

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (“Orthopedic hospital…“), the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin posted profit margins of 52%.  The article claims that the healthcare industry generally only has profit margins of around 3%-5%.  Does this mean that the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin is providing highly valued services?  Is it good at cutting costs?  Or is it…

Scotland’s Middle class to fund NHS care for poor

In last week’s Scotsman (“Middle class…“), the National Health Service (NHS) said it would be transferring money from wealthier areas in the east (Edinburgh and Grampian) to poorer areas in the west.  These types of transfers are necessary for a stable society generally most people support some redistribution.  The question remains, why should the Scottish…

Mandated Maternity Benefits

In many cases, the government will mandate that employers provide benefits in lieu of having the government provide the benefit themselves. One example is that the U.S. government mandates that firms purchase Worker’s Compensation insurance. Are these mandated benefits a more or less effective form of social insurance than direct government provision? Summers (1989) claims…

Private Information and Long-Term Care Insurance

‘Adverse selection’ and ‘moral hazard’ are phenomenons which affect any analysis of the insurance market.  For instance, Cutler and Zeckhauser (1997) speak of an adverse selection ‘death spiral’ which made untenable the continued offering of a generous health insurance benefit at Harvard University.  In their NBER paper, Finkelstein and McGarry (2003) attempt to estimate the effect…