The aging population and the size of the welfare state

Assaf Razin*, Efraim Sadka, Phillip Swagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Data for the United States and countries in western Europe indicate a negative correlation between the dependency ratio and labor tax rates and the generosity of social transfers, after other factors that influence the size of the welfare state are controlled for. This occurs despite the increased political clout of the dependent population implied by the aging of the population. This paper develops an overlapping generations model of intra- and intergenerational transfers (including old-age social security) and human capital formation that addresses this seeming puzzle. We show that with democratic voting, an increase in the dependency ratio can lead to lower taxes or less generous social transfers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-918
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2002


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