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The Aging Population and the Size of the Welfare State

Assaf Razin, Efraim Sadka and Phillip Swagel
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 110, No. 4 (August 2002), pp. 900-918
DOI: 10.1086/340780
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/340780
Page Count: 19
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The Aging Population and the Size of the Welfare State
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Abstract

Data for the United States and countries in western Europe indicate a negative correlation between the dependency ratio and labor tax rates and the generosity of social transfers, after other factors that influence the size of the welfare state are controlled for. This occurs despite the increased political clout of the dependent population implied by the aging of the population. This paper develops an overlapping generations model of intra‐ and intergenerational transfers (including old‐age social security) and human capital formation that addresses this seeming puzzle. We show that with democratic voting, an increase in the dependency ratio can lead to lower taxes or less generous social transfers.

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