NTA2020 LeeR_b

Global Meeting on Population and the Generational Economy, August 2020

Presentation: Ronald Lee, Gretchen Donehower, Andrew Mason, Michael Abrigo, Distributional Aspects of Aging in America: Insights from National Transfer Accounts


Population aging, slower economic growth, long term fiscal imbalance, and rising inequality are serious inter-connected trends with profound implications for the United States. Labor income has stagnated in recent decades (except at older ages), but effects on consumption and human capital investment, for example, may have been moderated by public transfer programs and fertility decline. How will the well-being and human capital of children, the workers of the future, vary by socioeconomic status (SES)? How is growing inequality in wealth, as usually measured, altered when we incorporate “transfer wealth”? Population aging is widely expected to lead to capital intensification, with reduced returns to capital and rising wages. Will the changing race/ethnic/education composition of the working and older populations reduce national saving rates and capital intensification? And related to all these topics are questions about intergenerational inequality, and the prospects for the well-being of future generations. We are particularly interested in distributional measures for consumption, labor income, and wealth (including transfer wealth) over the past three decades, and the role of transfers in changing the distributions arising from primary incomes. These flows can be estimated at the micro level from 1981 through 2019, and can be used to study distributions of income, consumption, or other variables, both longitudinally and cross-sectionally. This abstract has outlined work on a larger project, and for NTA13 we will develop a paper addressing some subset of these issues, with particular emphasis on the distributional measures.

File: NTA2020 LeeR_b

Paper: NTA2020 paper LeeR_b

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