Social security effects on income distribution: a counterfactual analysis for Brazil
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According to Diamond (1977), one of the reasons for the existence of social security systems is that they function as an income redistribution mechanism. There is an extensive literature that tests whether social security systems produce the desired results in developed countries (mainly for the U.S.A.). Nevertheless, there is not an obvious consensus about this social security property and there is little evidence for developing countries. In this article, we test this property for the Brazilian Social Security System. In addition, we also look at another question which has not been answered yet in the previous literature. Is the trend of social security systems increasingly progressive or regressive? We conclude that the changes in Brazilian Social Security legislation reduced inequality between 1987 and 1996, but only for the elderly. For the other age groups, there is a stable trend. Results for the period between 1996 and 2006 reveal that the Brazilian system is neutral for all cohorts. Therefore, we found out that social security systems are not an effective mechanism for income redistribution, as predicted by previous studies.