Does the world face a retirement crisis?


One of the biggest crises of the 21st century is retirement. An "aging population is stressing retirement safety nets such as Social Security," said BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, per The Wall Street Journal. This problem will only get worse as medical breakthroughs help people live longer. A "tremendous" effort goes to that medical innovation, Fink said, "but not even a fraction of that effort is spent helping people afford those extra years."

Demographics are quickly changing, and already, "retirement is becoming a luxury in the U.S.," Business Insider said. The portion of older Americans still in the workforce has risen from 11% in 1987 to just under 20% in 2023, thanks to debt problems, the disappearance of pensions, and the rising cost of living. Would raising the retirement age help?

"Working in old age can't be the only answer to the retirement crisis," Peter Coy said at The New York Times. The U.S. should shore up Social Security while also creating a government-sponsored pension plan. "Imposing what are effectively work requirements on older people is harsh."

"Progress on life expectancy has been very uneven," Matthew Yglesias said at Bloomberg. Educated Americans are living longer, but those "without bachelor's degrees are not." This means that raising the retirement age "essentially singles out the very worse-off class of elderly people and makes them worse off." That is "peculiar and cruel."

Raising the retirement age is the "least bad option," said Karl W. Smith, also at Bloomberg. Social Security is already paying out more in benefits than it receives in taxes. Raising the retirement age to 69 — something Republicans have proposed — would bring costs in line with revenue. Democrats have objected, but math is math.

Fifteen states have established automated savings plans known as "auto-IRA" for workers whose employers don't provide a retirement plan, Pew's John Scott said at The Hill. That helps "close the gap between what workers can save and what they need for retirement."

Another possibility is to tax the rich. A cap on taxes means a "billionaire pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $168,700 a year," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in an op-ed for Fox News. Congress can change that and "support a secure retirement for working Americans."

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