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Do you believe Social Security is unfair to women? To younger workers? Why or why not? If you think that Social Security is unfair, what could be done to make it more fair? What other problems might these measures cause?

Do you believe that Social Security should be made fully funded? What would the advantages and disadvantages be?

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I do believe that Social Security is at least somewhat unfair to women and to younger workers.  I would add, though, that I am not trying to imply that it intentionally discriminates against women or against younger people.  The fact that it is unfair comes from other factors that are largely beyond the control of the government.

I would say that Social Security is arguably unfair to women because it does not allow people to accrue benefits when they are not working for wages.  When women stop working, or when they reduce their work hours so as to be able to stay home with their children, they are not contributing (in the case of those who are not working for wages) or are not contributing as much to Social Security.  Therefore, they will not get as much in benefits when they come to retirement age.  However, it is hard to blame Social Security for this as it is not the government that has determined that women will typically be the ones to stay home with children.

I would say that Social Security is arguably unfair to younger workers because they are likely to get much less in the way of benefits than older workers and retired people.  This is because Social Security is running out of money.  The benefits given in the past were probably excessive, particularly since people are now living so much longer after retirement.  The government has already raised the retirement age for Social Security and is likely to have to cut benefits.  This means that younger workers are working for the sake of the older workers’ Social Security benefits and will not get as many benefits when they retire.

It is very hard to imagine, though, how this could be changed.  If we gave people credit for years spent at home with their children, people without children would be outraged.  So would parents who chose to work outside the home.  They could feel that they were subsidizing other people who simply chose not to work.  If we guaranteed younger workers the same deal that older workers and retired people are getting/have gotten, we would bankrupt Social Security in short order.  Therefore, I would argue that Social Security is likely to stay unfair in the ways that it is unfair today.

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