Research and Analysis by Martynas A. Yčas
Canada's Public Pensions System is widely applauded for reducing poverty among the elderly. This article reviews benefits provided to Canada's older people and compares the Canadian system to the U.S. Supplemental Security Income program. Although Canada's system would probably be judged prohibitively expensive for the United States, the authors argue that there are nevertheless lessons to be learned from the Canadian experience.
The Challenge of the 21st Century: Innovating and Adapting Social Security Systems to Economic, Social, and Demographic Changes in the English-Speaking Americas
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.
The Issue Unresolved: Innovating and Adapting Disability Programs for the Third Era of Social Security
The history of the Social Security programs in the United States falls into several distinct eras, defined by changing social, demographic, and economic conditions. At present the retirement components of these programs is moving into a stage of program maturation, which poses certain relatively well-understood changes to policymakers. The disability programs are also moving into the same set of societal conditions, but their impact is considerably more difficult to predict. Already disability incidence rates have experienced disturbingly large and poorly understood shifts. Developing a way to predict these shifts and to deal with the challenges that they make for existing programs is therefore a major priority of Social Security's current research agenda.