Social Security and Well-Being of the Elderly: the Case of France
We use the 1982 and 1993 reforms of the French pension system in the private sector to study the relationship between Social Security benefits and the well-being of the elderly between the late 70’s and the beginning of the new century. Affecting people in a different way, depending on year of birth, gender or socio-economic status, these reforms provide some sources of identification to estimate the effect of benefit changes on the standard of living of elderly families. To avoid spurious correlation or endogeneity problems in the determination of the impact of Social Security benefits on well-being we compute simulated social security payments and compare their evolution to various measures of well-being based on income, consumption, poverty, inequality or life satisfaction for both elderly and non-elderly families. We then focus on the 1982 and 1993 reforms. Our estimations conclude to a general increase in income, consumption and subjective well-being. However, a one euro increases in simulated benefit does not induce a one euro increase in after tax income (except at the top of the distribution), which shows some substitution between the different sources of income available for the elderly households. Estimation of difference in difference models to evaluate the impact on income and consumption of the 1982 and 1993 reforms underlines that it may exist asymmetry in the substitution effect between the different sources of income of the elderly depending on the sign of the change in generosity of the pension reforms.