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The Intergenerational State: Education and Pension

Staff Report 336 | Published May 1, 2004

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The Intergenerational State: Education and Pension


When credit markets to finance investment in human capital are missing, the competitive equilibrium allocation is inefficient. When generations overlap, this failure can be mitigated by properly designed social arrangements. We show that public financing of education and public pensions can be designed to implement an intergenerational transfer scheme supporting the complete market allocation. Neither the public financing of education nor the pension scheme we consider resemble standard ones. In our mechanism, via the public education system, the young borrow from the middle aged to invest in human capital. They pay back the debt via a social security tax, the proceedings of which finance pension payments. When the complete market allocation is achieved, the rate of return implicit in this borrowing-lending scheme should equal the market rate of return.

Published in: _Review of Economic Studies_ (Vol. 72, No. 3, July 2005, pp. 651-664)