How Can Changes to Social Security Benefits Promote Racial Equity?
Richard Johnson and Karen Smith, Urban Institute
Black workers and other people of color often face racism and other challenges in the labor market that limit their earnings and reduce future OASI and DI benefits. Changing the benefit structure for Social Security could offset some of these disadvantages and increase program benefits received by people of color, promoting overall financial security for older adults and people with disabilities. However, the details of each reform option will shape its effectiveness and help determine how well it targets additional payments to those groups.
This project will use DYNASIM4, the Urban Institute’s dynamic microsimulation model, to simulate how changes to Social Security might reduce racial and ethnic disparities in Social Security payments, financial security, and poverty rates. Social Security options to be modeled will include adding a meaningful minimum benefit, adjusting spouse and survivor benefits, making the benefit formula more progressive, and granting Social Security credits to workers who care for children and other family members. We will model multiple iterations of each option and show the sensitivity of outcomes to various design elements.