Social Security Facts

From Ezra Klein via Mark Thoma of Economists View:

Ezra Klein on Social Security:

1) Over the next 75 years, Social Security’s shortfall is equal to about 0.7 percent of GDP. Source (PDF).

2) For the average 65-year-old retiring in 2010, Social Security replaced about 40 percent of working-age earnings. That “replacement rate” is scheduled to fall to 31 percent in the coming decades. Source.

3) Social Security’s replacement rate puts it 26th among 30 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations for workers with average earnings. Source.

4) Without Social Security, 45 percent of seniors would be under the poverty line. With Social Security, 10 percent of seniors are under the poverty line. Source.

5) People can start receiving Social Security benefits at age 62. But the longer they wait, up until age 70, the larger their checks. Waiting to 66 means checks that are 33 percent larger. Waiting to 70 means checks that are 76 percent larger. But most people start claiming benefits at 62, and 95 percent start by 66. Source.

6) Raising the retirement age by one year amounts to roughly a 6.66 percent cut in benefits. Source.

7) In 1935, a white male at age 60 could expect to live to 75. Today, a white male at age 60 can expect to live to 80. Source.

8) In 1972, a 60-year-old male worker in the bottom half of the income distribution had a life expectancy of 78 years. Today, it’s around 80 years. Male workers in the top half of the income distribution, by contrast, have gone from 79 years to 85 years. Source.

Among his comments, my preferred solution:

Social Security’s 75-year shortfall is manageable. In fact, it’d be almost completely erased by applying the payroll tax to income over $106,000. Source (PDF).

I would add another fact to the list:  There is no shortfall in Social Security under the expected scenario for at least 27 years.  All of the minute 0.7 percent of GDP shortfall happens after 2038 at the earliest. This means Social Security actually reduces the government net deficit for the next 27 years.

Unfortunately Washington D.C. is a fact-free zone.

2 thoughts on “Social Security Facts

  1. See Also John T. Harvey’s Forbes article – Why Social Security Cannot Go Bankrupt

    It is a logical impossibility for Social Security to go bankrupt. We can voluntarily choose to suspend or eliminate the program, but it could never fail because it “ran out of money.” This belief is the result of a common error: conceptualizing Social Security from the micro (individual) rather than the macro (economy-wide) perspective. It’s not a pension fund into which you put your money when you are young and from which you draw when you are old. It’s an immediate transfer from workers today to retirees today. That’s what it has always been and that’s what it has to be–there is no other possible way for it to work.

    To explain this, let’s create a simple world. Say there has been some sort of terrible global calamity and we only have ten people left. Further say that these ten decide to make the best of it and set up a society, including an economy. Of course, much of humanity’s technology is now lost to us, so our level of productivity is very low. As a starting point, assume that each of us is only able to produce enough output for herself or himself to survive.

    How many people can retire under these circumstances?

  2. Pingback: Not Retiring Is the New Retirement Plan For Many « EconProph

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