Essays on Public Finance : Retirement Behavior and Disaster Relief

by Eisensee, Thomas

Abstract (Summary)
The dissertation consists of three self-contained essays on Public Finance.“News Droughts, News Floods and U.S. Disaster Relief” studies the mass media's influence on the U.S. government response to about 5,000 natural disasters in developing countries in 1968-2002. These disasters took around 63,000 lives and affected 125 million people per year. Given the huge losses involved, it is essential that disaster relief is provided to those most in need. We show that U.S. disaster relief depends on the occurrence of other newsworthy events at the time of the disaster, such as the Olympic Games or the O.J. Simpson Trial, which are obviously unrelated to need. We argue that the only plausible explanation for this is that relief decisions are driven by news coverage of disasters, and that this news coverage is crowded out by other newsworthy events.“Fiscal Policy and Retirement in the Twentieth Century” proposes a model that explains the trend in labor supply among older workers through changes in fiscal policy, including social security. The essay re-introduces social security as a major determinant of retirement behavior, while simultaneously offering an explanation to the two main puzzles in the literature: (i) the small contemporary retirement elasticities and (ii) the drop in the retirement age prior to the introduction of social security.“Sustainable Fiscal Policy and the Retirement Decision” concerns the sustainability of fiscal policy in aging economies and the retirement decision. The essay develops an applied general equilibrium model, where the retirement age is endogenous and current fiscal policy is a response to future demographic developments. Three policies are analyzed: (1) raising taxes (2) reducing the replacement rate and (3) raising the Full Retirement Age. All policies are found to have a substantial impact on retirement. Sustaining fiscal policy will result in falling interest rates, inducing a general delay in retirement. This general equilibrium effect on retirement can be substantially larger than the direct effect of changing social security incentives.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Business and economics; Economics; Computable General Equilibrium; Retirement; Fiscal Policy; Political Economy; Foreign Aid; Mass Media


Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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