Case Detail

Case Summary

Reforming Social Security Around the World

Case Number: 5-409-758, Year Published: 2009, Revision Date: September 06, 2013

HBS Number: KEL493

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Authors: David Besanko; Saahil Malik

Key Concepts

Social Security Reform, Pensions, Old Age Insurance


In May 2009 the Office of the Chief Actuary for the U.S. Social Security Administration projected that by 2016 the Social Security Trust Fund would begin to spend more money than it took in through tax revenue. Further, by 2037 the balance in the Trust Fund would be down to zero, necessitating cuts in benefits to retirees. The U.S. Social Security system thus faced a long-term financial problem that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later. The experience of other countries in reforming their own systems of old-age insurance might provide some guidance for U.S. policymakers as they attempt to deal with the long-run fiscal challenges facing the U.S. Social Security system. This case focuses on reforms of old-age insurance systems in three countries: Australia, Mexico, and Sweden.

Learning Objectives

This case gives students the opportunity to debate the variety of approaches that could be used to reform the U.S. Social Security system. It also gives insight into how countries around the world have structured their old-age insurance systems.

Number of Pages: 9

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Economics

Geographic: United States

Year of Case: 2010