How Does Media Coverage of Social Security Affect Worker Behavior?
The brief’s key findings are:
- Social Security’s trust fund is projected to deplete its reserves in 2034, after which ongoing revenues will cover only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits.
- News coverage tends to emphasize the depletion date over the ongoing tax revenues, often with alarming headlines.
- To gauge how such coverage could affect worker behavior, this study used an online experiment that showed different headlines to different groups.
- Participants responded to headlines on trust fund depletion by reducing their intended claiming age, with no change in their intended savings rate.
- If workers follow through with such intentions, claiming early would lock in lower monthly benefits without increased saving to make up the gap.