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Economic Brief

Nov. 10, 2020

Richmond Fed Studies Lifespan Inequality’s Impact on Social Security Reform

The Richmond Fed’s latest Economic Brief analyzes the policy implications of lifespan inequality for a wide range of Social Security reforms.

Economists from the Richmond Fed and the University at Albany evaluate how various reforms affect the trade-off between distributing Social Security benefits more equally and encouraging society’s most productive members to work longer. They find that social welfare is maximized when benefits are independent of lifetime earnings, the payroll tax cap remains near its current level and benefits are made less dependent on the age at which they are initially claimed.

The Richmond Fed’s Economic Brief series provides essays on economic issues and trends. Sign up to receive an email notification when a new essay is posted.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District — including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia — to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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