Raising Social Security Age Is 'Cruel' Idea

Paul Krugman says advocates miss key point on rising life expectancy

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 16, 2012 12:13 PM CST

(Newser) – One idea that gets floated by both parties in the conversation about reforming Social Security and Medicare is to raise the eligibility age for both. After all, life expectancy is rising, so it's only logical, right? Wrong, writes Paul Krugman in the New York Times. In fact, "it's a cruel, foolish idea," he argues. Yes, overall life expectancy is rising, but what's relevant here is only the life expectancy of current seniors—and, generally speaking, that figure is rising only among the affluent.

"This means that any further rise in the retirement age would be a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who aren’t living much longer, and who, in many cases, have jobs requiring physical effort that’s difficult even for healthy seniors," writes Krugman. "And these are precisely the people who depend most on Social Security." What to do instead? Get serious, finally, about reining in "bloated" health care costs. Read his full column here.

  (Shutterstock)
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