Social Security Paradoxes

An overhaul of the U.S. social security system is widely discussed these days. This is in sharp contrast to when parts of the Swedish public pension system was implemented as private accounts - politicians avoided virtually any debate ahead of the decision. After the decision however, it met broad public criticism. As the system does not allow policyholders to pick separate stocks, but requires us to choose fund managers, one satirist noted the paradox herein: How could you be assumed to make a good choice of people that choose among stocks, when you yourself are not assumed to be able to choose among stocks?

A more profound paradox in private social security is that of time-choice. You are not assumed to be able to choose when in life to consume the holdings on the account, it's locked for the young and healthy. Still you are assumed to be able to choose the risk level of the holdings, i.e. the possibility for it to be any money there at the point in time the government has decided that you are allowed to use it.

Aren't we better on deciding about the timing of our own consumption, than on judging on the economy wide circumstances that determines the performance of the securities we choose for our accounts?

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