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Are All Americans Living Longer?

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 05:51 AM
Original message
Are All Americans Living Longer?
A few days ago, CNBCs Squawk Box turned its show over to a gab-fest between two VIPs in the Social Security debateAlice Rivlin, who was OMB director in the Clinton administration and is a current member of the presidents deficit commission, and former comptroller general David Walker, who heads a foundation established by Peter Peterson, the former investment banker who has been waging a well-greased campaign to change Social Security. (Peterson is a CJR funder...)

Rivlin said theres a need to adjust Social Security a little bit to the modern fact that were all living longer and can work longer. All?

Most of the increase in life expectancy in retirement has been among high income men, explained Monique Morrissey, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank focusing on the concerns of low and middle income Americans. She pointed me to a study (pdf) done by the Social Security Administration which found that a man in the top half of the earnings distribution who retired at age sixty-five in 2006 could now expect to live nearly another twenty-two years, compared to a man who retired at the same age in 1982, whose life expectancy was only seventeen years at the time. But a man with earnings in the bottom half of the distribution retiring in 2006 could expect to live only sixteen years longer. The same man with lower earnings retiring in 1982 would have been expected to live only about fifteen more years.

So, over the decades, the top earners got five more years of life expectancy, compared with only one year for those at the bottomreflecting the widening disparities in the country... the general pattern appears to holds for women as well.

http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/are_all_americans_livi...


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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 06:04 AM
Response to Original message
1. Shows you who gets the good healthcare, doesn't it? Great post - rec...nt
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 06:15 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. actually, the difference in health & mortality isn't influenced much by
Edited on Tue Jul-13-10 06:17 AM by Hannah Bell
health care differences. it shows up even in countries with national health systems.

The most important predictor of lifespan & morbidity is class position.

if you're interested, this is a decent review of the research:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unnatural_Causes:_Is_Inequ...

The first hour of the series presents a general framework for understanding the relevance of social determinants of health in creating health inequities in the United States. The episode introduces the U.S.s poor health statistics compared to other wealthy industrialized countries, then presents research from Michael Marmots Whitehall studies, which found that health status and wealth correlate on a continuous gradient from the poor to the wealthy. To understand why this gradient exists, the program looks at the negative health effects of chronic stress, and at evidence that those lower on the social spectrum suffer more from exposure to toxic stress. Throughout the program, these fairly academic and complex arguments about stress, class, and health are humanized through the stories of four residents of Louisville, Kentucky, from four different socio-economic levels. Through looking at the lives of a hospital CEO, a lab supervisor, a janitor, and an unemployed mother, the program illustrates how stress increases and control over ones life decreases as one moves down the socio-economic ladder, with very real consequences for health...


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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 06:54 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. So in effect it is that people are less healthy because they are poor....
I really agree about the stress of being in a low economic position contributing to poor health...and I am sure mental attitude and emotional state has a lot to do with it as well.

I am also sure the rich feel that it is their right because they are "better" people...


mark
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 05:43 PM
Response to Reply #3
15. not only because they're poor. it's a gradient, from rich to poor, with the middle being less
healthy/shorter-lived than the rich as well, but more healthy/longer-lived than the poor.
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:16 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Then maybe
the US should learn from Cuba where the great majority are all in the same boat and there is no apparent abject poverty.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. I hope you'll make a thread out of that some time.
Wow.

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:57 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. there have been some, i may have contributed one of them as well.
Edited on Tue Jul-13-10 07:59 AM by Hannah Bell
don't have them on tap, & too late tonight (this am) but you could do a search.

it's interesting stuff.

which is one of the reasons i get frustrated with folks who obsess over the health habits of the poor. it's not that, either. not so much as you'd think from the obsession with it.

actually, the wikipedia article i linked is a good summary, & has links to more details.

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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:00 AM
Response to Original message
4. Maybe they can use Tim Russert as Example One.
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:07 AM
Response to Original message
5. If the above is true
it would be a justification for means testing for Social Security, rather than uniformly raising the retirement age.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. I disagree
It would be justification for increasing or eliminating the FICA tax income limits. You might also make a solid case for making FICA a progressive tax. Both would be nice I think.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. better to raise workers wages & increase the progressivity of the income tax, esp. on capital income
because that's what the actual problem is -- growing income disparities, not the design of the ss program.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 09:13 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Oh sure
That's the ideal, but if we're constraining ourselves to just beefing up Social Security then I think raising the FICA limit is a no-brainer.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. raising the cap so that it covers 90% of wages as per the original mandate is fine.
uncapping it completely will destroy it.

social security is, even per the notoriously conservative trustees mid-range forecast, able to pay full benefits for the next 30 years.

changing the formulas NOW does nothing but give the government more of your money to funnel into tax breaks for the rich & war spending.
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #7
17. Raising the FICA tax limits is not enough
The formula to calculate benefits uses those caps to calculate the maximum benefits. As I point out below, the most well-off retirees get to keep 82.5% of their benefits with the current flattened tax rate schedule. Raising the cap a few years before the best paid baby boomers retire (at a time of their own choosing) would just cost the system even more.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. social security is already means-tested via taxation on ss as income.
since 1983.
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. No more than one-half of a person's Social Security is taxed
and with the top tax rate at 35%, that's an effective tax rate of 17.5%, max. For most of the people who are white-collar workers living longer, the effective tax rate is only about 14%. That means that those who are living the longest because they had the best paying jobs with the least physical stress are still keeping about 82.5 to 86 percent of their Social Security checks.

Means testing means that those at the top are already considered to have benefitted from generous tax breaks on hefty pension plans and retirement savings accounts. I'm not for means testing, because it would totally undermine support for the Social Security System from the top half of earners, but the arguments presented in your original post would seem to lean that way.

On the other hand, they might also be an argument for a greater progressivity in the tax rates as was the case before Reagan. One of the 'reasons' Reagan used to flatten the progressive income tax was supposed simplicity. It was a nonsense argument due to the fact that charts were always provided that took graduation of rates into account, but with TurboTax, etc. it's an even lamer argument. Restore progressivity, and you narrow the advantage that white collar workers have over their blue collar bretheren.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:48 AM
Response to Original message
9. K&R!
This is important information.
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scarletlib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 06:48 PM
Response to Original message
18. Daily Kos had an excerpt last week from a book discussing SSA and
some common myths. More of us make it to adulthood today than in the past due to good medical care, vaccinations etc.

Up until the latter part of the 20th century more people died in childhood than today.

Some of the stats discussed in the excerpt: Average life span of men is only 3 yrs greater today than when SSA began and for women only 5 yrs greater.
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1776Forever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:05 PM
Response to Original message
19. Most of the increase in life expectancy in retirement has been among high income men, (Cheney ie)
Too bad that for some there is great care and for others there is none!
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jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:30 PM
Response to Original message
20. That is the perfect rationale for removing the income cap

If the problem is more wealthy folks living longer, then removing the income cap takes care of that precise problem.
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Exultant Democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. yep. It is a pretty simple.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-10 08:20 PM
Response to Original message
22. i think there is a cause/effect error here.
having poor health is hard on the career path. makes it harder to get through college, harder to work the insane hours you need to make it to the top, hard to stay focused on career above all else.
so, which comes first?
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-14-10 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. same pattern seen in poor children v. middle v. top.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-14-10 03:02 PM
Response to Original message
23. k
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