Social security has proven to be one of the most successful
programs in the United States. No other program has done more to
transform old age or to protect family incomes against economic
risks arising from the disability or death of a working family
member. Polls consistently show strong support for Social Security,
but these same polls also show that the public, especially the
young, is skeptical about whether Social Security will be able to
meet its obligations. The program's harshest opponents call it a
"Ponzi scheme." Arguing that the young will be left "holding the
bag," they call for a shift towards greater personal savings or
means-testing. Experts agree that the aging of the baby boom,
longer life expectancies, and a changing economy will impose new
challenges. But seeing no impending disaster, they point to reforms
that leave intact basic Social Security commitments and structure.
Not surprisingly, the public is confused and has many unanswered
Social Security in the 21st Century offers an introduction to the
basic economic, demographic, and political aspects of social
security, and addresses the questions most often asked regarding
this subject. Featuring nationally recognized experts, the book
presents clear, authoritative, and balanced discussions of
contemporary Social Security issues, offering the historical
background, concepts, statistics, and options necessary to make
informed judgments about the program. These issues include the
program's financial viability, its effects on the economy and the
federal deficit, its consonance with American values, the adequacy
of benefits for today's and tomorrow's old, its fairness to women
and the young, disabilityreform and generational equity. It
explains both the social insurance principles and political history
related to the development of Social Security in the United States.
The book avoids using technical jargon, making it ideal for a wide
ranging audience including policymakers, teachers, journalists,
students, and the general public. Special attention is given to the
future and how Social Security can be changed to respond to the
needs of generations to come.
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