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Working Papers

Mike Sherris CEPAR

Michael Sherris 

Abstract: The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (2021) highlighted the challenges in developing a sustainable financing system for Aged Care in Australia. The Report recommended additional funding both in the short term and longer term, to provide an adequate level of aged care quality for older Australians including exploring an actuarially based contributory social insurance scheme for aged care. Sustainable financing of aged care requires a balance between government tax-based financing, individual contributions during working life through an aged care levy, co-payments for aged care costs for those receiving aged care and means testing for these co-payments. There should be a role for private market insurance and financing to supplement government financed aged care support.


Yuanyuan Deng and Hugo Benítez-Silva

Abstract: Medicare is one of the largest federal social insurance programs in the United States and the secondary payer for Medicare beneficiaries covered by employer-provided health insurance (EPHI). However, an increasing number of individuals are delaying their Medicare enrollment when they first become eligible at age 65. Using administrative data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), this paper estimates the effects of EPHI, employment, and delays in Medicare enrollment on Medicare costs. Given the administrative nature of the data, we are able to disentangle and estimate the Medicare as secondary payer (MSP) effect and the work effects on Medicare costs, as well as to construct delay enrollment indicators. Using Heckman’s sample selection model, we estimate that MSP and being employed are associated with a lower probability of observing positive Medicare spending and a lower level of Medicare spending. This paper quantifies annual savings of $5.37 billion from MSP and being employed. Delays in Medicare enrollment generate additional annual savings of $10.17 billion. Owing to the links between employment, health insurance coverage, and Medicare costs presented in this research, our findings may be of interest to policy makers who should take into account the consequences of reforms on the Medicare system.

Keywords: Medicare cost; Medicare as secondary payer; employer-provided health insurance; delays in Medicare enrollment; Heckman’s sample selection model



Yuanyuan Deng, Hanming Fang, Katja Hanewald and Shang Wu

Abstract: We develop and calibrate a life-cycle model of labor supply and consumption to quantify the implications of alternative pension reforms on labor supply, individual welfare, and government budget for China’s basic old-age insurance program. We focus on urban males and distinguish low-skilled and high-skilled individuals, who differ in their preferences, health and labor income dynamics, and medical expense processes. We use the calibrated model to evaluate three potential pension reforms: (i) increasing the pension eligibility age from 60 to 65, but keeping the current pension benefit rule unchanged; (ii) keeping the pension eligibility age at 60, but proportionally lowering pension benefits so that the pension program’s budget is the same as under Reform (i); and (iii) increasing the pension eligibility age to 65 and simultaneously increasing the pension benefits so that individuals of both skill types attain the same individual welfare levels as in the status quo. We find that relative to the baseline, both Reforms (i) and (ii) can substantially improve the budgets of the pension system, but at the cost of substantial individual welfare loss for both skill types. In contrast, we find that Reform (iii) can modestly improve the budget of the pension system while ensuring that both skill types are as well off as in the status quo. We find that Reforms (i) and (ii) slightly increases, but Reform (iii) slightly decreases, the overall labor supply.

Keywords: pension reform; labor force participation; welfare; life-cycle behavior; China



Hazel Bateman, Paul Gerrans, Susan Thorp and Yunbo Zeng

Abstract: We administered an online survey to elicit consumers’ subjective assessments of their decision state for the purchase of life insurance - from pre-aware to purchase decision - in a setting of both active choice and default cover. We find that household formation and financial assets are associated with higher decision states, but not always with being capable and ready to choose. The financially literate are more likely to be in a higher state, but the less financially literate are spread across several states. We also find that personal values matter for readiness to make a choice about life insurance with respondents who place more value on benevolence and self- determination more likely to be aware of life insurance and capable to choose. We conclude that personal values help consumers choose suitable cover and that interventions to increase cover and improve suitability of life insurance should target progression through the decision states.

Keywords: Life insurance, decision states, personal values, financial literacy, defaults.


Shang Wu, Hazel Bateman, Ralph Stevens and Susan Thorp

Abstract: We collect and analyze stated preferences for long-term care insurance that pays income in poor health states instead of reimbursing formal care costs. Around 75% of the sample of 1008 pre-retirees chose to purchase at least some long-term care income insurance from a menu that also included liquid wealth and a life annuity. Our results show that long term care income insurance is complementary to informal care and is attractive to seniors who plan to rely on family members for extensive care. Those who have access to extensive informal care demand 25-37% more health- contingent income per year than those who do not. Females who expect to rely exclusively on extensive care from family members are willing to buy more cover than males. We also find that if long-term care income insurance were available, many healthier seniors would release funds set aside to self-insure long-term care risk and purchase additional longevity insurance.

Keywords: Long-term care insurance; longevity insurance; aged care; informal care; retirement incomes; social care.

Mike Keane CEPAR

Michael Keane and Timothy Neal

Abstract: It is well-understood that 2SLS has poor properties if instruments are exogenous but weak. We clarify these properties, explain weak instrument tests, and study how behavior of 2SLS depends on instrument strength. A common standard for acceptable instruments is a first-stage F-statistic of at least 10. But we show 2SLS has poor properties in that context: Besides having little power, 2SLS generates artificially low standard errors precisely in those samples where it generates estimates most contaminated by endogeneity. This problem persists even when instruments are very strong, causing one-tailed 2SLS t-tests to suffer from severe size distortions unless F approaches 10,000. The Anderson-Rubin test alleviates this problem, and should be used even with strong instruments. A first-stage F of 50 or more is necessary to give reasonable confidence that 2SLS will outperform OLS. Otherwise, OLS combined with controls for sources of endogeneity may be a superior research strategy to IV.

Keywords: Instrumental variables, weak instruments, 2SLS, endogeneity, Anderson-Rubin test, F-test, size distortions of tests


Content pensioners enjoying a stroll

George Kudrna, Philip O'Keefe and John Piggott

Abstract: This paper reviews the current state of knowledge about pension policy and pension policy formulation in emerging economies undergoing demographic transition, and, with this background, indicated possible directions for future policy development. The countries we consider are primarily located in East and Southeast Asia, a region which is home to more than 30% of the world's population, and are characterised by increasing life expectancy, falling and /or low fertility ratios, immature social protection policy structures, high rates of informal employment, and in many cases, high rates of co-residency.

These features point to the relevance of strands of research which do not normally sit together in thinking about the evidence base for pension policy formulation and its impacts. They include fiscal implications; impacts on economic growth and intergenerational affordability; the relationship between alternative pension models and labour market (in)formality; the role of public benefits in the context of multi-generation households and intergenerational transfers; and the limitations of pension administration for older people who have worked in the informal sector for most or all of their lives.

The paper documents what we know about these various aspects of the issue and identifies knowledge gaps. On the basis of the evidence we do have, we indicate policy reform directions, in particular regarding development of social pensions directed to older people who have worked in the informal sector.


Roshen Fernando, Weifeng Liu and Warwick J McKibbin

Abstract: This study assesses the global economic consequences of climate-related risk in three broad areas: (1) the macroeconomic impacts of physical climate risk due to chronic climate change associated with global temperature increases and climate-related extreme shocks; (2) the macroeconomic effects of climate policies designed to transition to net zero emissions by 2050 (transition risk); and (3) the potential macroeconomic consequences of changes in risk premia in financial markets associated with increasing concern over climate events.

We consider four widely used climate scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways, or RCP), and identify the physical damage functions due to chronic climate risks. The chronic climate risks include sea-level rise, crop yield changes, heat-induced impacts on labor, and increased incidence of diseases. We also estimate the future incidence of climate-related extreme events, including droughts, floods, heat waves, cold waves, storms and wildfires, based on climate variable projections under the climate scenarios.

After translating physical climate shocks into economic shocks to labor force and sectoral productivity, we investigate the macroeconomic consequences under the climate scenarios using the G-Cubed model. The results demonstrate that physical climate risk is likely to cause large economic losses in all RCP scenarios, both through chronic climate change and extreme climate shocks.

We then explore the impact of country-specific economy-wide carbon taxes as a representative policy action to drive the global economy to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. Transition risks vary according to the ambition and the design of policies to reduce emissions. The results demonstrate that there can be potentially significant costs associated with policies to reduce emissions, and the costs differ across sectors and across countries.

We also address whether changes in climate risk perceptions can significantly impact the real economy through changes in risk premia in financial markets. We calculate shocks to financial risk premia based on relationships between historical climate shocks and changes in financial market risk premia. We apply these shocks to risk premia under the RCP scenarios and find that the cost of rising risk premia can be of a magnitude consistent with historical experience. The cost appears to be smaller than the economic costs of changes in physical climate risk and transition risk.

Keywords: Climate change, Extreme events, Climate shocks, Climate risk, Macroeconomics, DSGE, CGE, G-Cubed

Aged care

Ou Yang, Jongsay Yong, Yuting Zhang and Anthony Scott

Abstract: We quantify competition in Australia’s residential aged care sector and study how competition is associated with the quality of care and prices in the sector. Competition is defined three ways: the number of competitors within 10 km radius of the facility; the distance (in km) to the third closest competing facility; and Herfindahl-Hirschman index based on market share of facilities within 10 km. We further examine whether quality and price differ by ownership types (government owned, for profit and not for profit), after controlling for competition. We find that more competition is not associated with better quality or lower prices. Government-owned facilities, in comparison to for-profit and not-for-profit facilities, are found to provide higher quality in some domains but not in others yet tend to charge lower prices than other ownership types. The results indicate the possibility of market failures in aged care. Two key sources of market failures, the lack of public reporting of quality of care and price transparency, should be addressed as policy priorities before competition can work in residential aged care markets.

Keywords: Nursing home completion; Aged care quality; Aged care prices; Australia.