[Paleopsych] NYT: Social Security Underestimates Future Life Spans, Critics Say

Christian Rauh (from webmail) christian.rauh at uconn.edu
Thu Jan 6 13:07:30 UTC 2005

It would be even more logical to teach math to policy makers and use equations
instead of a constants to calculate such things. And then improve on the
mathematical model, like we do in all sciences. A science of social security?


Quoting "Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D." <ljohnson at solution-consulting.com>:

> 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
> disappears.
> 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. ;-)
> >
> >Christian
> >
> >
> >
> >>Steve Hovland
> >>www.stevehovland.net
> >>
> >>
> >>-----Original Message-----
> >>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
> >>
> >>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
> >>worse.
> >>
> >>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
> >>1950.
> >>
> >>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
> >>2000.
> >>
> >>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
> >>decades."
> >>
> >>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
> >>immigrants.
> >>
> >>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
> >>diseases.
> >>
> >>"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
> >>Social Security."
> >>
> >>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
> >>with income."
> >>
> >>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."
> >>
> >>http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/31/politics/31benefit.html
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