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SUP-321M: Designing Social Security Systems

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Harvard Kennedy School

SUP-321M: Designing Social Security Systems

DescriptionThis module examines philosophical, political, economic, demographic, and structural issues that come into play in designing and implementing social security and assistance programs in developed and developing countries. From a multi-national comparative perspective, it considers the several steps from moral obligation, program financing, and payment issuance in order to identify and analyze the various factors that influence social insurance and public assistance program design and to consider the policy implications for developing successful, sustainable programs. Student-developed ideas for new programs/ program changes are examined from the perspective of policy practitioner.

Faculty Jo Anne Barnhart

Source: At (accessed 20 January 2014)


Teaching Topics Addressed in this Course, Organized by Public Management Subject



Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles  provide candidates for topic titles to be developed by the Atlas:

  • Setting Program Goals
    • Moral Obligation/Reducing Poverty
    • Economic Necessity/Income Replacement
    • Role of Government
  • Recognizing Economic Realities
    • Economic Base
    • Labor Force Participation
    • Barriers to Work
    • Demographics
  • Providing Coverage and Financing
    • Universal Coverage vs. "Pay to Play
    • Government-funded vs. Pre-funded vs. Pay-As-You-Go
    • Globalization/International Workforce
  • Determining Benefit Payment and Pay-Out
    • Basis for Determining Benefit
    • Incentives vs. Benefit Reductions
    • Adjustments/Increases Over Time
  • Ensuring Required Infrastructure, Sustainability and Public Support
    • System (IT and Personnel) Capacity and Needs
    • Future Forecasting
    • Garnering Public Support

Page created by: Ian Clark, 20 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.




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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance