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How Well Are Social Security Recipients Protected From Inflation?

Gopi Goda, John Shoven () and Sita Slavov
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John Shoven: Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University

No 08-059, Discussion Papers from Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Abstract: Social Security is widely believed to protect its recipients from inflation because benefits are indexed to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). However, the CPI-W may not accurately reflect the experience of retirees for two reasons. First, retirees generally have higher medical expenses than workers, and medical costs, in recent years, have tended to rise faster than the prices of other goods. Second, even if medical costs did not rise faster than other goods, as retirees age, their medical spending would still tend to increase as a share of income; that is, each cohort of retirees would still see a decline in real income left over for non-medical spending. In the 1918 birth cohort, We show that Social Security benefits net of average out-of-pocket medical expenses have declined relative to a price index for non-medical goods by almost 20 percent for men, and almost 27 percent for women. We also explore the extent to which indexing Social Security benefits to the CPI-E, an experimental measure of inflation for the elderly, would change these results.

Keywords: Social Security; inflation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H55 E31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009-08
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Related works:
Chapter: How Well Are Social Security Recipients Protected from Inflation? (2011) Downloads
Journal Article: How Well Are Social Security Recipients Protected From Inflation? (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: How Well Are Social Security Recipients Protected from Inflation? (2010) Downloads
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