By Richard V. Burkhauser
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Extra info for A Challenge to Social Security. The Changing Roles of Women and Men in American Society
Earnings sharing, by splitting total earnings between spouses, forces the working spouse to share this cost through lower benefits and explicitly recognizes the contribution of the nonworking or lower-earning spouse in the higher-paid accomplishments of the other spouse. Proposals for providing earnings credits to homemakers or child-care providers are based on the assumption that the service performed is of value to society and thus that the cost of partial compensation for the OASI benefit Introduction 17 loss of the spouse should be shared by all workers.
This seems to be a sore point with some critics. It is true that the big losers from a move to abolish spouse benefits would be the nonworking wives of high-wage earners. These high benefits are hard to justify either on the basis of need or as a replacement of income loss. One possible remedy for this would be to go to a flat dollar amount for all spouse benefits. Concepts Underlying the Current Controversy 31 11 maker. Hence, critics of different persuasions share a desire to gear insurance benefits exclusively to market work contributions.
The field of social insurance is marked by continuing controversy about how much it should be "social" in character and how much it should be like private insurance. It is like insurance in that it relates contributions, variously called premiums and taxes, to the sharing of definable financial risks. It is social in that participation is compulsory and contributions are often designed to be out of alignment with benefits for special groups of contributors. " The former requires classification of people according to their exposure to the risk which is being insured against.