Research & Analysis by Gary Burtless

Effects of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Costs on Social Security Taxable Wages
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 73, No. 1 (released February 2013)
by Gary Burtless and Sveta Milusheva

The rising cost of employer contributions for employee health insurance reduces the percentage of compensation subject to Social Security payroll taxes. This article uses the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to analyze trends in the cost of employer health insurance contributions relative to money wages and total compensation. The analysis shows how increasing employer health insurance premium costs from 1996 to 2008 reduced the percentage of compensation subject to payroll taxes, and it predicts the effects of health insurance reform on taxable compensation.

Lifetime Earnings Patterns, the Distribution of Future Social Security Benefits, and the Impact of Pension Reform
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 4 (released September 2001)
by Barry Bosworth, Gary Burtless, and C. Eugene Steuerle

Policymakers have long been interested in understanding the adequacy and distribution of Social Security benefits and in predicting the effects of reform on representative workers. This article describes two new methods for estimating the career profile of earnings for representative workers. It then compares the results of those new methods with earnings profiles assumed in traditional distributional analysis of Social Security and shows the implications of the new results for evaluating Social Security reform.