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Should We Refinance Unfunded Social Security?



Within a continuous-time overlapping generations model, featuring endogenous intensive margin of the labour supply and retirement decision, we analyse the issue of passing the burden of payroll revenues onto consumption or capital. We find that large long-run welfare gains occur when pension benefits are refinanced by consumption taxes. However, the transition to the new steady state is very painful for a large fraction of existing cohorts. On the other hand, the capital base is too small to sustain pension benefits but could be made larger if capital taxes are raised. Yet that would entail significant welfare losses.