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Social security and democracy
Sala-i-Martin, Xavier
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
Many political economic theories use and emphasize the process of votingin their explanation of the growth of Social Security, governmentspending, and other public policies. But is there an empirical connectionbetween democracy and Social Security program size or design? Using somenew international data sets to produce both country-panel econometricestimates as well as case studies of South American and southern Europeancountries, we find that Social Security policy varies according toeconomic and demographic factors, but that very different politicalhistories can result in the same Social Security policy. We find littlepartial effect of democracy on the size of Social Security budgets, onhow those budgets are allocated, or how economic and demographic factorsaffect Social Security. If there is any observed difference, democraciesspend a little less of their GDP on Social Security, grow their budgetsa bit more slowly, and cap their payroll tax more often, than doeconomically and demographically similar nondemocracies. Democracies andnondemocracies are equally likely to have benefit formulas inducingretirement and, conditional on GDP per capita, equally likely to induceretirement with a retirement test vs. an earnings test.
Macroeconomics and International Economics
social security
determinants of public spending
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Working Paper

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