A Challenge to Social Security. The Changing Roles of Women by Richard V. Burkhauser

By Richard V. Burkhauser

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15 Chapter 5 in this volume. 34 R. Lampman and M . MacDonald receiving social insurance benefits, who reach retirement age or who become disabled at any age would be eligible for a flat monthly benefit without any admission of or test for dependency (a demogrant). Other flat benefits could be designed for children of retired workers and young spouses caring for these children, and for surviving children. As noted before, an individualized structure of this type avoids incentives to choose one form of living arrangement over another.

These persons want the option to file combined or separate income tax returns without penalty. It seems anomalous that there is a movement to end the community-property provision at a time when earnings sharing is proposed for OASI purposes. Homemaker credits have no precedent, although there is some similar'Francis P. King, Chapter 8 in this volume. R. Lampman and M . MacDonald 36 ity to the credits for military service granted by social security during World War II. Precedents for some of the proposals we have discussed are to be found in the social security systems of other nations.

Are they the joint property of a couple, or do they belong entirely to the earner? Different expectations about the future work behavior of women are implied by the various proposals. The underlying assumption of spouse benefits, as explained above, was that the pattern of work and earnings of married women was radically different from that of men. If there had been no difference, the rationale for spouse benefits would not have existed, since most married couples would receive two benefits. Current controversy over the dual entitlement provision arises in part because of the growing percentage of female beneficiaries who are eligible for both their own benefits as retired workers and for spouse or widow benefits.

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