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Highlights

Although Social Security's benefit and contribution provisions are neutral with respect to race, ethnicity, and gender, concerns about the experiences of minority groups under Social Security focus on whether they benefit less than whites, particularly because of the shorter life expectancy of blacks. These concerns are related to the concept of equity, or how benefits compare with taxes. To gain a thorough understanding of the experiences of minority populations under Social Security, GAO was asked to examine (1) what socioeconomic and demographic factors influence Social Security taxes paid and benefits received and (2) how different equity measures compare across racial groups. Because of the current system's projected actuarial deficit, to conduct this study, GAO made its calculations using three policy scenarios, each of which achieves 75-year solvency: a payroll tax increase and a progressive and proportional benefit cut. Further, GAO used three measures of equity: lifetime benefit-to-tax ratios, net lifetime benefits, and real internal rates of return. GAO also examined four birth cohorts: 1931-40, 1941-45, 1946-55, and 1956-64.

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