Social Security and Aging
Econ. 2413

Course Objectives:

In this course, we shall examine economic aspects of the social security system in relation to the elderly population in Canada and in other selected countries. We shall review several aspects including the political economy of aging, income and expenditure patterns of the elderly, individual savings, private pension plans and the government sponsored social security schemes, economics of early and mandatory retirement, considerations of inter-generational equity, economic status of the older women and disabled elderly, changing demographic profile and its implications for health, housing and the present social security system, possible reforms of the social security system and its implications for the elderly population and the younger generation to the year 2000 and beyond.


The material in this course will be conducted in a seminar/discussion style. All students are expected to work collaboratively in person and through the electronic media. We shall have our distribution list on the computer network to enable us to bounce our ideas with each other, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week!

You are expected to maintain a learning log and complete your assignments on time for each class and present them to the class for discussion. In addition to several short assignments, you will be required to undertake a comprehensive study (an essay of about 3000 words/15 pages, typed) on an assigned topic and present it to the class on the assigned date. Late assignments/learning log/essay will not be accepted without a valid excuse.


Class assignments: 40 marks
Learning log and active participation: 30 marks
Essay: 30 marks


It is not possible to find a textbook that covers the desired material adequately. The following books, together, cover most of the material. However, as a reference for the course, you may purchase Robert Brown's book. This book provides an overview of the subject matter at an elementary level and includes an extensive bibliography. Some material will be handed out to you in class or made available in the library.

Robert L. Brown, Economic Security in an Aging Population , Butterworths, 1991

John Burbidge, Social Security in Canada: An Economic Appraisal, Canadian Tax Paper No. 79, Canadian Tax Foundation, 1987

P.Lynn McDonald and Richard A. Wanner, Retirement in Canada, Butterworths, 1990

John Myles, Old Age in the Welfare State: The Political Economy of Public Pensions, Revised edition, University Press of Kansas, 1989

Personal Contact:

Personal contact with each other is very important in the collaborative form of learning. I am sure to be available during the office hours indicated above. At other times, drop in and see if I am there, phone or send an e-mail. In addition, you are welcome to have an informal discussion over a coffee or lunch break!

Who should take this course?:

If you like to gain an in-depth knowledge of economic problems facing the elderly and the implications of various social security policies for you as a contributor or as a beneficiary, you will enjoy the course. A background of the principles of economics from an intro course in economics will be an asset. The knowledge gained in this course will be of an additional interest to the students of gerontology.

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