[Paleopsych] NYT: Social Security Underestimates Future Life Spans, Critics Say
Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Thu Jan 6 00:57:59 UTC 2005
It would be logical to simply raise the retirement age. For me, it is
now 66 years; why not make it 67 and finally 68? Push the concept
further: With 68 as the early retirement age, and 70 as the regular
retirement age, the cliff social security will run off in 30 years
People with medical need to retire should be allowed something earlier,
like roofers and cement workers (in a previous incarnation, I was in
construction). Unfortunately we have made social security an
entitlement, not a welfare system, which it actually is (none of my
money will come back to me, it has been spend on bureaucratic boondoggle
and turned into T-bills).
Christian Rauh (from webmail) wrote:
>Quoting Steve Hovland <shovland at mindspring.com>:
>>Get ready to work longer than you expected :-)
>And live longer. ;-)
>>From: Premise Checker [SMTP:checker at panix.com]
>>Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 1:22 PM
>>To: World Transhumanist Ass.; paleopsych at paleopsych.org
>>Subject: [Paleopsych] NYT: Social Security Underestimates Future Life
>>Spans, Critics Say
>>Social Security Underestimates Future Life Spans, Critics Say
>>NYT December 31, 2004
>>By ROBERT PEAR
>>WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 - When the federal government assesses
>>the long-term financial problems of Social Security, it
>>assumes that increases in life expectancy will be slow and
>>measured. But many population experts say they believe that
>>Americans' life expectancy will increase rapidly in the
>>21st century, making the program's financial problems even
>>President Bush and Congress are preparing for a debate over
>>the future of Social Security, whose solvency depends not
>>only on factors including productivity, inflation and birth
>>rates but also on how long beneficiaries will be living.
>>Life expectancy at birth increased by 30 years in the last
>>century, and many independent demographers, citing the
>>promise of biomedical research and the experience of some
>>other industrialized countries, predict significant
>>increases in this century. The Social Security
>>Administration foresees a much slower rise.
>>"Life expectancy will make a very big difference in the
>>fiscal viability of Social Security, but the agency's
>>projections of longevity appear too conservative," said
>>Prof. Samuel H. Preston of the University of Pennsylvania,
>>one of the nation's leading demographers.
>>Dr. Preston said the agency assumed that "past advances in
>>life expectancy are unrepeatable, even though the medical
>>research establishment is routinely producing important
>>breakthroughs that reduce the incidence or fatality of a
>>variety of diseases."
>>Richard M. Suzman, associate director of the National
>>Institute on Aging, a unit of the National Institutes of
>>Health, said: "There is a long history of government
>>actuaries and statisticians underestimating future gains in
>>life expectancy. The United States is unfortunately well
>>below the outer limits of life expectancy. Other countries
>>are doing much better. That gives us an indication of the
>>potential room for improvement."
>>Tables published by the government's National Center for
>>Health Statistics show that life expectancy at birth was
>>47.3 years in 1900, rose to 68.2 by 1950 and reached 77.3
>>in 2002. The latest annual report of the Social Security
>>trustees projects that life expectancy will increase just
>>six years in the next seven decades, to 83 in 2075. A
>>separate set of projections, by the Census Bureau, shows
>>more rapid growth.
>>Social Security says male life expectancy at birth will be
>>81.2 years in 2075. The Census Bureau, using different
>>methods and assumptions, says that level will be reached
>>much earlier, in 2050.
>>Likewise, Social Security says female life expectancy will
>>reach 85 years by 2075, while the Census Bureau says it
>>will exceed 86 in 2050.
>>For the American population as a whole in the last century,
>>most of the gains in life expectancy at birth occurred from
>>1900 to 1950. But most of the gains in life expectancy
>>among people who had already reached age 65 were seen after
>>Last year an expert panel advising the Social Security
>>Administration found "an unprecedented reduction in certain
>>forms of old-age mortality, especially cardiovascular
>>disease, beginning in the late 1960's."
>>The panel said Social Security was wrong to assume a slower
>>decline in mortality rates among the elderly in the next 75
>>years. Rather, it said, the government should assume that
>>mortality will continue to decline as it did from 1950 to
>>Ronald D. Lee, a professor of demography and economics at
>>the University of California, Berkeley, said: "I foresee
>>death rates of the elderly in the United States continuing
>>to decline at the same pace they have declined since 1950.
>>In fact, there is evidence that the pace of decline in
>>other developed countries has accelerated in recent
>>The Social Security Administration defends its assumptions.
>>"There is a wide range of opinion among experts on this
>>issue," said Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the agency. "In
>>the last few years, we've moved a bit closer to the
>>position of other agencies and demographers."
>>Some experts say other factors could ease the effects of
>>longer life on Social Security's solvency.
>>"The higher costs associated with longer life expectancy
>>could be offset in several ways that do not involve a
>>reduction of Social Security benefits," said John R.
>>Wilmoth, another demographer at Berkeley.
>>People who live longer could work longer, for instance. Or
>>the size of the working-age population could increase
>>because of higher birth rates or a larger number of
>>Further, some population experts foresee developments that
>>could wind up buttressing the forecasts of the Social
>>Security Administration. S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of
>>epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of
>>Illinois at Chicago, said the era of large increases in
>>life expectancy might be nearing an end, with the spread of
>>obesity and the possible re-emergence of deadly infectious
>>"There are no lifestyle changes, surgical procedures,
>>vitamins, antioxidants, hormones or techniques of genetic
>>engineering available today with the capacity to repeat the
>>gains in life expectancy that were achieved in the 20th
>>century" with antibiotics, vaccinations and improvements in
>>sanitation, Dr. Olshansky said.
>>Indeed, he said, without new measures on obesity and
>>communicable diseases, "human life expectancy could decline
>>in the 21st century."
>>On the other hand, said James W. Vaupel, director of the
>>program on population, policy and aging at Duke University,
>>life expectancy in the United States is far from any
>>natural or biological limits.
>>"Experts have repeatedly asserted that life expectancy is
>>approaching a ceiling," Dr. Vaupel said. "These experts
>>have repeatedly been proved wrong."
>>At various times, different countries have had the highest
>>reported at-birth life expectancy. But with "remarkable
>>regularity" over the last 160 years, Dr. Vaupel said, life
>>expectancy in the leading country has increased an average
>>of three months a year, or 2.5 years a decade.
>>David A. Wise, a Harvard professor who is director of the
>>program on aging at the private, nonpartisan National
>>Bureau of Economic Research, said: "Almost all demographers
>>outside the government think that death rates will continue
>>to fall faster than the decline incorporated in the
>>projections of the Social Security Administration. Most
>>think life expectancy will increase more rapidly than
>>Social Security says. That's not good for the finances of
>>Nor do economists generally foresee a reversal of the trend
>>toward early retirement. Though researchers have observed a
>>significant decline in chronic disability among the
>>elderly, most workers retire and begin drawing Social
>>Security benefits before they reach 65.
>>Labor unions and some politicians have resisted efforts to
>>raise the eligibility age for full benefits. Such
>>proposals, they say, penalize workers who have spent their
>>lives in physically demanding jobs.
>>Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement
>>Research at Boston College, said, "Increases in life
>>expectancy at 65 have been a major contributor to the
>>rising cost of Social Security." Future increases could
>>strain pension plans and individual retirement savings, as
>>well as Social Security, she said.
>>"The United States is the richest major country in the
>>world in terms of per capita gross domestic product," Dr.
>>Munnell said. "And life expectancy is clearly associated
>>She added, though, that "if you focus on life expectancy at
>>age 65, the U.S. falls in the middle of the pack."
>>One reason, she said, is that "the United States is not so
>>rich relative to its peers if you look at the average
>>income going to the lowest 40 percent of the population."
>>paleopsych mailing list
>>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
>>paleopsych mailing list
>>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
>paleopsych mailing list
>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the paleopsych