Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 57, No. 4
The Social Security Programs in the United States are complex and have evolved over a long span of years. However, it is possible to categorize much of this experience into two different eras in which Social Security functioned in a distinctive environment, and a third era that is now beginning. The middle third of this century was an "age of invention," in which the programs grew rapidly under favorable social and economic conditions. Since then, the programs have experienced an "age of accommodation," in which growing financial constraints have permitted only limited changes in the program. We can look forward to an "age of maturation" in the decades to come, as most persons reaching retirement will have been covered by Social Security during their entire working careers. The declining ratio of workers to beneficiaries and a wide range of demographic and social changes will present significant challenges. The Social Security programs must change considerably to respond to the demands of a new era, and vigorous efforts to do so are underway.
This article estimates the effects of proposals to increase the retirement benefits of women who reduce their earnings to care for young children. Using the 1990 Survey of Income and Program Participation file—exactly matched to the Social Security Administration's record of lifetime earnings—the authors present the distribution of child-care dropout years by retirement cohort and other demographic characteristics, and estimate the dollar impact of adjustments for caregiving years. The policies examined do increase the retirement benefits of some women, but the increases on average are small, are lowered with each successive retirement cohort, and benefit women from the more privileged socioeconomic groups. Thus, because the policy effects are small and will diminish in the future, the time of efficacy for these proposals has passed. Subsidizing child-care dropout years does not seem to be a well-targeted policy.
This article reports the results of a survey of State Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) rules regarding the treatment of unrelated cohabitors in households containing AFDC units. We examine State treatment of cash and in-kind contributions by cohabitors and find that the AFDC grant is usually not affected if the cohabitor makes in-kind contributions toward food and shelter expenses of the household. However, the grant generally is reduced if the cohabitor contributes cash to the AFDC unit unless the cash is for shared household expenses. In addition, a few States have specific policies toward cohabitors that are not based on initial evidence of cohabitor contributions.
This article describes the statistical development of the geographic coding system used to identify worker location for the Continuous Work History Sample. The new system—which is planned for implementation for data year 1993—will provide more accurate geographic distributions of workers within a residence concept than the old system could provide within an employer location concept. The article also presents the results of a pilot study that tested the operational aspects of the new system. The results provide some preliminary estimates of the effect of the revised codes on the geographic distribution of workers.
During the 103rd Congress, some 400 bills of interest to SSA were introduced. Of these, nine that affect SSA programs were enacted. This note covers these enactments.