By Richard V. Burkhauser
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Additional info for A Challenge to Social Security. The Changing Roles of Women and Men in American Society
These include abolishing spouse and dependent benefits, and substituting earnings sharing or homemaker credits for the present method of calculating spouse and dependent benefits. Abolishing Benefits for Spouses and Survivors Social insurance could, of course, be changed to make it more like private insurance. Benefits could be related more closely to contributions 8 F o r an estimate of how family benefits tend to swamp out insurance equity see Bennett (1979). While these benefits may vary within earnings classes, they may not in fact vary a great deal as a percentage of earnings across earnings classes.
A familist is one who recognizes the family rather than the individual as the basic self-reliant unit and who sees the family not simply as the outcome of consumer choice but also as an ongoing transfer or insurance institution whereby income is shared. Such a person sees it as appropriate for tax and benefit policy to take into account the needs and ability to pay of any family constellations which appear. A familist is comfortable with a social policy that legitimizes family membership as a status that qualifies one for benefits without proof that one has done anything to deserve them.
Indeed, a step was taken in this direction with the passage in 1974 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), mandating that all pensions must offer a joint and survivor's benefit to retired workers. The use of increased regulation in the private sector, however, is only as effective as the scope of private pension coverage. Coverage by private pension plans is now at about 50% and has remained at this level for the past decade. Thus, without further extensions of coverage, half of all workers and their dependents will not benefit from federal regulation of 10 private pension plan provisions.
A Challenge to Social Security. The Changing Roles of Women and Men in American Society by Richard V. Burkhauser