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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Immigration and Social Security

I am obsessed with US politics although I live in Europe. I have been following and even contributing to the US debate on social security. This is a bit absurd, since, over here in Italy I participate in a system which is still really insolvent in spite of a series of ruthless reforms (before that it was a Ponzi scheme that worked -- like a Ponzi scheme).

Here the standard thing for progressives to say is that the demographic transition (to the lowest gross reproductive rate of any living species anyway in the history of the planet) means that Italy should welcome immigrants (like me). I'm doing my bit contributing away even though I will get roughly doodly squat when I retire. Looking at it from the point of view of native Italians, this is the great thing about pay as you go systems. We immigrants have to pick up our share of the legacy debt. With prefunding, current residents oay off the legacy debt.

Now In the USA about one in five new residents is an immigrant. They are not newborn when they arrive so there remaining life expectancy is less than that of US born babies, but still that is a huge factor. The effect of personal accounts on SSA finances are like a single mom prepaying her mortgage just before remarrying -- generous but dumb.

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