Social Security Around the World IV: Denmark

In Denmark the official retirement age is 65, but on average most people retire at age 61.  Around 8%-9% of GNP is spent on government income transfers to the elderly.  Among men between the ages of 55-65, only Sweden, the U.S., and Japan have higher labor force participation (LFP) rates.  Why do we see such…

Social Security Around the World III: Canada

In Chapter 2 of Social Security Program and Retirement around the World, economists Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber and Kevin Milligan look at Canada’s Income Security Programs (IS).  According to their research, total expenditures on the three largest elderly transfer programs in Canada cost $22.7 billion in 1998-1999 or 20% of the federal budget.  Also, like most…

Social Security Around the World II: Common Reform

The Gruber and Wise book evaluates how the following two reforms will affect a variety of OECD countries: Delay official retirement age 3 years “Common Reform” The Common Reform is an option favored by many economists since it seeks to minimize the distortions of an individual’s decision of when to retire.  The four characteristics of…

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…