Private versus public old-age security

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2012-09-02
Authors
Barnett, Richard
Puhakka, Mikko
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

History
The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Abstract

We compare two institutions head on, a family compact -- a parent makes a transfer to her parent in anticipation of a possible future gift from her children -- with a pay-as-you-go, social security system in a lifecycle model with endogenous fertility wherein children are valued both as consumption and investment goods. Our focus is strictly on the pension dimension of these competing institutions. We show that an optimally-chosen family compact and a social security system cannot co-exist; indeed, the former may be preferred. A strong-enough negative shock to middle-age incomes destroys family compacts. While such a setting might appear ideal for the introduction of a social security system -- as the experience of Europe, circa 1880s, would suggest -- this turns out not to be the case: if incomes are too depressed to allow family compacts to flourish, they are also too low to permit introduction of an optimal social security system.

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