Investment in children, social security, and intragenerational risk sharing

Simon FAN, Yu PANG, Pierre PESTIEAU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


We analyze the role of pay-as-you-go social security in intragenerational risk sharing in an overlapping-generations model with individual heterogeneity. Parents invest in their children’s education in state schools in exchange for old-age financial support. Due to random factors such as luck in the job market, children may have different earning capacities despite that they receive the same education. Without social security, a parent gets a transfer payment from her own child, so the received amount is uncertain as it depends on the child’s earnings. The social security scheme, which essentially serves to pool transfer contributions from all children and then redistribute them equally to each parent, insures parents against the risk of educational investments. Our model shows that social security stimulates educational spending, enhances labor earnings, and increases ex ante individual utility. However, it may worsen ex post intragenerational inequality of lifetime income.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Tax and Public Finance
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the anonymous referee for valuable comments and suggestions. We also benefit from helpful comments of conference participants of Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and Association of Public Economic Theory in 2019. Yu Pang gratefully acknowledges financial support provided by Macau University of Science and Technology Foundation. All errors are our own.


  • Educational investment
  • Income inequality
  • Inter-family risk pooling
  • Old-age insurance
  • Social security


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