Social Security Around the World VIII: Netherlands

While France, Germany and Italy struggle to reform their gigantic old-age pension system, in the Netherlands the problems are not nearly as acute.  The Dutch have a Social Security system, but it is not as large as in the countries to its south.  A large portion of the a Dutch individual’s pension comes from their employer;…

Social Security Around the World VII: Japan

Japan is an incredible success story.  After so much suffering in World War II, this country now has the second largest economy in the world and the longest life expectancy of any country in the OECD. This success however, may become a fiscal nightmare in the future. In 1998, 16.2% of the Japanese population was…

Social Security Around the World V: France

According to the OECD Structural Policy Indicators paper, France has one of the highest implicit tax rates on continued work during its old age pension in the entire OECD.  In 1998, the implicit tax was over 80%.  Subsequent reforms have reduced the implicit tax to about 50% in 2003; yet only Luxemburg and the Netherlands…

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…