Means Testing of Public Pensions: The Case of Australia



The Australian age pension is noncontributory, funded through general tax revenues and means tested against pensioners private resources, including labour earnings. This paper constructs an overlapping generations (OLG) model of the Australian economy to examine the economy wide implications of several counterfactual experiments in the means testing of the age pension. These experiments include policy changes that both relax and tighten the existing mean test. We also consider a policy change that only exempts labour earnings from the means testing. Our simulation results indicate that tightening the existing means test combined with lower income tax rates leads to higher labour supply, domestic assets and consumption per capita, as well as to welfare gains in the long run, while labour earnings exemptions from the means testing have largely positive e¤ects on labour supply at older ages. Population ageing is shown to further strengthen the case for the pension means testing.


Kudrna, George. 2015. "Means Testing of Public Pensions: The Case of Australia." Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) Working Paper, WP 2016-338.

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WP 2016-338

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Working Paper

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