The numbers in parentheses are each state’s rank in 1959, 1990 and 2016. The rise of New York is striking; so is the relative decline of Oklahoma and Kansas, both of which had higher life expectancy than New York as recently as 1990.
How does all this bear on Republican proposals to raise the retirement and Medicare eligibility ages? Because seniors’ life expectancy varies so much by class, an increase in the age of eligibility for major programs will take a much bigger bite out of retirement for Americans with low socioeconomic status, and correspondingly fewer years to collect benefits, than it will on those higher on the ladder.
And because disparities have been rising over time, the disproportionality of that effect has been rising, too.
Look back at the figure on life expectancies by quartile. According to these estimates, American men in the bottom quartile born in 1960 can expect to live only 1.9 more years after 65 than their counterparts born in 1928. That’s slightly less than the increase in the retirement age that has already taken place. And even men in that quartile born in 1990 are expected to have only 3.5 years more time after 65 than those born in 1928; meanwhile, Republicans are proposing a rise in the retirement age to 70, a five-year total increase, and an equal rise in the Medicare age.
One way to think about all of this, which is only a slight caricature, is that Republicans are telling janitors in Oklahoma that they can’t get benefits in their 60s — even though their life expectancy hasn’t gone up by much — because lawyers in New York are living longer.
It’s quite a position to take, and it would surely provoke a huge backlash — if voters knew about it, which most of them seem not to.
This content was originally published here.
I bring content to you in one place.