Social Security: Individual Accounts Alone Won't Cut It

Regarding "Don't tinker with Social Security, reinvent it" (Economic Viewpoint, June 8), Robert Barro implies that he favors individual savings and investment accounts, as opposed to the collective accounts that, for instance, insurance companies provide.

It is important to point out the difference. A person participating in a collective scheme has to save for only the average life expectancy; those living longer receive the benefits forfeited by those who die earlier. A person in an individual savings scheme cannot assume that he or she will live to only an average age and therefore must save more. People making provisions for old age individually must save for living until they are 120 or more if they do not want to end up living on the dole. Any reform of Social Security should require that a certain minimal amount of retirement income be covered through a collective pension savings plan.

Tim Keese

Roedermark, Germany

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