Redistribution under a Partially Privatized Social Security System

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Once viewed as a radical recommendation, proposals to privatize Social Security abound. Moreover, proposals to privatize partially Social Security are beginning to receive serious consideration. Accordingly, this Article will address the likely effect of partial privatization on Social Security's ability to redistribute income. For the purposes of this Article, privatization will refer to proposals that involve individuals directing their own pre-funded individual accounts and bearing the risk of investing in the private market and not to proposals that involve the federal government investing in the private market and bearing the risk. This Article will treat proposals that "add" a defined contribution account on to the current Social Security system as well as proposals that "carve out" a defined contribution account-that is, divert a portion of existing payroll tax revenues to fund private accounts-as partial privatization proposals."

Part I of this Article will begin by describing how the Social Security system currently balances equity with social adequacy. Part II of this Article will then describe some of the pending partial privatization proposals and explain how they will alter this balance. Next, Part III will explain why enactment of the proposals could put Social Security's redistributive role at risk. Finally, Part IV of this Article will explain why Social Security's redistributive role should be preserved.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)969-992
JournalBrooklyn Law Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


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