What is the International Social Security Association?

John K. Taber jktaber at onramp.net
Thu Dec 3 17:33:07 PST 1998

>Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 12:21:58 -0500
>From: sawicky at epinet.org (Max Sawicky)
>Subject: RE: What is the International Social Security Association?

>Looks like professional wonks, some liberal some
>centrist and soft on privatization.

> . . .
> I would appreciate any help on the provenance of this
> report. For one thing, it contains a table showing
> Social Security expenditures as 15.2% of GDP. This is
> incredibly high. The Trustees Report gives 4.6% of
> GDP.

>I couldn't find the table. SS expenditures for Fiscal
>Year 1997 were $362 billion, so the 4.6 figure is the
>right one. The other one is within shouting distance
>of SS as a share of total U.S. public spending (Federal,
>state and local), though it still looks to be off a
>bit. It's definitely too big to be % of Federal spending.

If you click on http://www.aiss.org/pdf/publ/penseng.pdf then search for 15.20 you will get directly to the table, "Comparison of International Scores with Social Security Spending and Employer Tax Rates, OECD Countries".

> The table footnotes say that the 15.2% figure is obtained
> from the International Labour Organization.

This adds to the suspicion that the base is total public spending. For international comparisons, all the international org's have to message the national numbers for compatibility. Also, they don't compare the central governments only but typically merge the entire public sector. Otherwise you would get misleading contrasts between countries with different degrees of centralized government.

Unless I hear otherwise, I will take it as a bad mistake. At the very least, it is unexplained.

>> And what do you all think of the Urban Institute?

>Lots of very useful work, all free except for the books
>on their web sites.

>> I suspect that the "report" is tendentious and unusable,
>> but I would like the opinion of lbotists.

>Might be tendentious but all serious students of the
>debate would be well-advised to keep abreast of the

Thanks, much appreciated.

There is a lot in the report I don't like, mostly vagueness and inflated writing. Talking about privatization he says "In Latin American countries where this [privatization] has been done, supporters believe that the new approaches create institutional arrangements that will be more effective than government in preventing unsustainable expansion in future benefits."

He's talking about Chile I suppose but he inflates it to "Latin American countries". And I don't like "this" without a clear antecedant.

Maybe the guy has problems with clarity, but I associate this kind of inflated prose with bad faith.

I'm reading it carefully as you advise. It does make some good points, but so far nothing to back them up beyond assertion. The mistake in Social Security outlay, or at least the lack of explanation, does not help my suspiciousness.

Also, I await further comments from lbotists.

-- Homines id quod volunt credunt.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list