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Social Security: A Fresh Look at Policy Alternatives [Hardcover]

Jagadeesh Gokhale
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 15, 2010 0226300331 978-0226300337

Many of us suspect that Social Security faces eventual bankruptcy. But the government projects its future finances using long outdated methods. Employing a more up-to-date approach, Jagadeesh Gokhale here argues that the program faces insolvency far sooner than previously thought.

To assess Social Security’s fate more accurately under current and alternative policies, Gokhale constructs a detailed simulation of the forces shaping American demographics and the economy to project their future evolution. He then uses this simulation to analyze six prominent Social Security reform packages—two liberal, two centrist, and two conservative—to demonstrate how far they would restore the program’s financial health and which population groups would be helped or hurt in the process.

Arguments over Social Security have raged for decades, but they have taken place in a relative informational vacuum; Social Security provides the necessary bedrock of analysis that will prove vital for anyone with a stake in this important debate.

Editorial Reviews


Social Security is innovative, interesting, and important. Gokhale delivers on the promise in the title, providing a new appraisal of a variety of plans to reform Social Security that will appeal to a wide range of readers, including policy makers in Congress and the White House and economists concerned with retirement income.”

(Dale Jorgenson, Harvard University)

“Jagadeesh Gokhale once again pushes the state of the art in Social Security analysis, warning us that the largest federal spending program is in far worse financial condition than commonly supposed. Gokhale builds his analysis of Social Security from the ground up, in the process showing how more limited approaches used by government agencies don’t tell the full story. Gokhale’s analysis of Social Security is both technically first-rate and accessibly written, and it should serve as a warning to policymakers and the public not to delay in addressing this important issue.”

(Andrew Biggs, American Enterprise Institute)

“Let there be no mistake—despite the urgency of the recent financial crisis and recession—the most daunting economic challenge facing our nation remains that of reducing the enormous deficits facing the United States as a result of our entitlement programs. In Social Security, Jagadeesh Gokhale provides a rigorous analysis of options for reforming this important program. His analysis serves both as a ‘call-to-action’ for our nation to take on this problem head-on and as a useful analytical framework for understanding how reform would work. Policy makers should not only read this book, they should act on it.”

(Jeffrey R. Brown, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

About the Author

Jagadeesh Gokhale is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, coauthor of Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: New Budget Measures for New Budget Priorities, and a member of the Social Security Advisory Board.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226300331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226300337
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,827,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
SOCIAL SECURITY: A FRESH LOOK AT POLICY ALTERNATIVES offers a fine simulation of the forces affecting American demographics and the economy to help predict the future evolution of the social security system and its six possible reform packages. This approach offers a survey that focuses on restoring financial health to the system and incorporates conservative and liberal agendas alike, making this a 'must' for any college-level economic, political or social issues collection.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An alternative model? June 3, 2010
I've just listened to a 90 minute lecture on this book, though I haven't read it. Based on what I heard, and given the high price of the book, I don't think I want to buy and read it, but maybe another reviewer can change my mind, because I am interested in reading good books about "the Social Security problem."

The author, Mr. Gokhale, spoke for the first 30 minutes, then two other experts provided some comments and feedback, and finally there was a brief question-answer section. It seems that the meat-and-potatoes of this book is about predictive modeling for Social Security. The host of the lecture referred to the book as "wonkish." Well, I would expect any analysis of Social Security to be wonkish. But I would also expect to hear some conclusions expressed in plain language as well; after all, this was a lecture aimed at a lay audience, not mathematical modelers. The entire lecture focused on the challenge of modeling, though I can't say I learned anything useful even about that. Creating good models is a challenge for anyone, not just Social Security policy wonks. After listening for 90 minutes I felt like the consensus was "garbage in, garbage out." This is hardly revelatory.

Anyway, I did manage to get a little more out of the lecture. Mr. Gokhale has come up with a model for the Social Security system which is a bit more pessimistic than the government's models. He said that his model assumes no policy changes and that all the current trends will continue. He also considers six different government "fixes" that have been proposed. Of those six fixes, he says that two are pretty good. At no point in the lecture does anyone describe "the problem" with Social Security that needs to be fixed.
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars POLITICAL AGENDA BOOK: September 19, 2010
By shopper
You have been warned. This think tank author, recently appointed to the Social Security Advisory Board, is part of the Bush-Cheney effort to privatize the Social Security Administration. Why is this a problem? Privatization means the Social Security Trust Funds will be used by Wall Street firms to churn for trading fees. Instead of a safe investment policy, privatized investments will go to high risk inventions such as collateralized debt obligations, based on loans to unqualified home loan borrowers.
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