The Political Economy of Redistributive Social Security


Pierre Pestieau

Publication Date:

December 1, 1999

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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


Population aging puts significant pressure on social security systems that are based mainly on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) formula and determined by the political process in which both retirees and future retirees participate. This paper demonstrates that in an economic and demographic steady state, majoritarian democracy overspends on social security. It then shows that in case of demographic shock, the regular majority process can be paralyzed by the development of entrenched interest groups that could lose from majority decisions. Depending on the way these entrenched interests operate, they can be judged more or less desirable from the viewpoint of social justice.


Working Paper No. 1999/180



Publication Date:

December 1, 1999



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