Should We Retire Social Security?: Grading the Reform Plans

Henry J. Aaron and
Henry J. Aaron The Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Chair, Senior Fellow Emeritus - Economic Studies

Robert D. Reischauer
Robert Reischauer Headshot
Robert D. Reischauer Distinguished Institute Fellow; President Emeritus - Urban Institute

December 1, 1999

Most Americans understand that Social Security faces a long-term imbalance between the cost of benefits promised under current law and the program’s projected income. They realize that the looming deficits arise from the coming retirement of the large baby boom cohort, the steady increase in life expectancies, and the reduction in fertility rates, not from program mismanagement.

Nevertheless, many wonder whether Social Security, devised during the Great Depression, amidst double-digit unemployment, pervasive poverty, and the inability of all but a few to save for retirement, is suitable for today’s vastly changed economic, social, and financial conditions.