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13 November 2012

Social Security, Life Expectancy, and SES

It's a twofer Tuesday! Just a short note of additional interest.

Paul Krugman has a very sociological post on his blog today refuting the "zombie" idea that the retirement age needs to be increased as a way to deal with the troubled status of the Social Security trust fund since life expectancy has increased over time. He makes (and has been trying to for some time) two sociologically interesting points worth sharing. First, a big part of that increase in life expectancy has to do with decreases in infant mortality. Those changes, while positive, distort what's going on at the opposite end of the lifecourse. Second, socioeconomic status is highly correlated to life expectancy. The reported gains in life expectancy belong disproportionately to those of higher socioeconomic status. The poor and working classes have not seen the same gains. According to the data Krugman cites, the lower 50% gained only a year of additional life on average for every compared to the five years that the upper 50% gained (UPDATED 11:33 AM). Raising the retirement age (even further than is already scheduled) would put an undue burden on those who most need the benefits from Social Security.

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