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Old man's hand holding several pennies.

For now, cutting Social Security and doing serious mischief to Medicare seem to have lost their luster for policymakers. But as long as the likes of Alan Simpson are still kicking, schemes to "save" these programs won't end. The perennial favorite is always raising the eligibility age because as "everyone knows" people in the U.S. are living longer. People who pay attention to such things know that not to be true across the board. Rich men are living quite a bit longer, poor men less so, and poor women are actually losing ground. Here's another study to prove it.
You can look at a man born in 1940 and see that during the 1980s, the mid-point of his career, his income was in the top 10% for his age group. If that man lives to age 55 he can expect to live an additional 34.9 years, or to the age of 89.9. That’s six years longer than a man whose career followed the same arc, but who was born in 1920.

For men who were in the poorest 10%, they can expect to live another 24 years, only a year and a half longer than his 1920s counterpart.

The story is rather different for women. At every income level, for both those born in 1920 and 1940, women live longer than men. But for women, the longevity and income trends are even more striking. While the wealthiest women from the 1940s are living longer, the poorest 40% are seeing life expectancy decline from the previous generation.

This is what that looks like:
Changes in additional life expectancy (in years) at age 55, by income between cohorts born in 1920 and 1940.
That decline in the life expectancy of poor women, particularly poor, white women has been precipitous—a loss of 5 years in life expectancy the past 19 years. The last time demographers saw a drop-off in life expectancy that drastic was in men in the USSR, right after the Soviet Union fell.

That means, according to the study's author, "'If it turns out people at the bottom are not having an increase in life expectancy. They are getting a real reduction' in Social Security benefits as a result, said Mr. Bosworth. 'They’re going to get it for less years.'" The good news is that Bosworth was delving into this data, from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study, along with Kathleen Burke at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They are working on determining whether raising the retirement age would be a smart policy solution. So far, the answer is no. "'It's really hard to come up with some effective means of trying to equalize this,' said Mr. Bosworth, 'and that's a serious concern.'" Indeed.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tragic and very wrong but it makes sense (7+ / 0-)

    As the screws are tightened for those who depend on Social Security, their lives become miserable.  Given that women live longer it makes sense that more women depend on Social Security and they are the victims of the mindset that tightens those screws.

    http://www.ssa.gov/...

    Women reaching age 65 in 2012 are expected to live, on average, an additional 21.4 years compared with 19.1 years for men.
    Women represent 56.0 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 66.7 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older.

    ...

    In 2012, 49.6 percent of all elderly unmarried females receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

    And given the income inequality, women receive less in Social Security payments.  It all adds up.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:47:43 PM PDT

  •  Why is there a reduction of life expectancy? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, tobendaro, Einsteinia, Vetwife

    Lack of access to health care, a problem which unfortunately remains in (I think) 23 states that have been governed by immoral Republicans who don't give a damn if poor people die.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:50:06 PM PDT

    •  This has not ceased to be (0+ / 0-)

      a problem in the rest of the country, either.

      It has been somewhat mitigated, not solved.

      Dear Boomers: The dirty Rooskies aren't coming to get you. Breath in sanity through your mouth, breath out the Cold War propaganda through your nose.

      by JesseCW on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:59:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Higher infant mortality (0+ / 0-)

      And complications of pregnancy. Partly a result of reduced medical services.

      Also a weakening of the social safety net, which in particular impacts single-parent, predominantly female-headed households with children.

      •  To avoid confusion... (0+ / 0-)

        ...in case a reader misses it.

        Although higher infant mortality may (or may not -- I don't have the figures in front of me) be reducing life expectancy, this diary does not address life expectancy that includes infant mortality. The diary addresses the life expectancy of those who have reached the age of 55 (and, therefore, obviously didn't die as infants).

        Hypothetically (I have no evidence at my fingertips to support or dismiss this hypothetical), decreased mortality among younger people (including infants) may actually result in a decreased life expectancy for those who reach 55 years of age. This could be the case if, for example, medical advances and better availability of health care keep people with chronic health problems (such as type 1 diabetes or heart disease) alive to 55 but they are still weaker or more prone to complications after 55 than those without such problems.

        Studies suggest, for example, that being born premature correlates to decreased lifespan even after the individual reaches adulthood. I don't know if these studies have adjusted for other factors to conclude that being born premature is the cause of this effect. But, the odds of a premature baby surviving to adulthood has increased dramatically over the past 60 years and could cause overall life expectancy of adults to drop even though infant mortality dropped and life expectancy at birth increased.

        There just isn't enough data in this diary or the linked materials to draw conclusions about the cause of the decreased life expectancy (not surprising since the focus of this diary seems to be the impact of wealth and longevity on Social Security policy, not on health policy).

  •  A huge part of it is (0+ / 0-)
    Megan thinks her mom might have heard it for the first time when she was pregnant with her, but Crystal never had regular medical care because she didn’t qualify for Medicaid as Possum did.
    Health care access for the rural poor, particularly in the South, sucks.

    And it's been getting worse, not better, as medical costs have skyrocketed and shitty meat packing jobs have either dropped health coverage or rendered it over-priced junk that low wage workers 1) Can't afford the premiums for 2) Can't afford the co-pays and deductibles to make use of.

    Now the question remains - why have white men without a high school diploma seen life expectancy crash back three years instead of the five year set back white women without a diploma have experienced.

    That two year gap is the mystery that needs uncovering.

    Dear Boomers: The dirty Rooskies aren't coming to get you. Breath in sanity through your mouth, breath out the Cold War propaganda through your nose.

    by JesseCW on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:55:10 PM PDT

    •  Don't think most actually "crashed back" (0+ / 0-)

      they simply didn't advance as far as their wealthy counterparts

      •  No, they "crashed back". Three years for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10

        for white men without a high school diploma, five years for white women without a high school diploma.

        McJoans links are well worth clicking.*

        These are absolute declines compared to two decades ago, not relative declines compared to others.

        *This is true as a general rule even when I have issues with her conclusions.  Time spent reading the articles she links to is never time wasted, even when I'm familiar with the general subject.

        Dear Boomers: The dirty Rooskies aren't coming to get you. Breath in sanity through your mouth, breath out the Cold War propaganda through your nose.

        by JesseCW on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:32:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, then the information posted (0+ / 0-)

          in the diary about ALL income groups (of men at least) LIVING LONGER:

          That’s six years longer than a man whose career followed the same arc, but who was born in 1920.

          For men who were in the poorest 10%, they can expect to live another 24 years, only a year and a half longer than his 1920s counterpart.

          is grossly misleading.  Why would she do that?
    •  Possibly partly due to increase in numbers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW

      of women smoking between 1920 and 1940.

      Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

      by barbwires on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:06:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's not dropping people in their 50's and 60's (0+ / 0-)

        today, though.

        Dear Boomers: The dirty Rooskies aren't coming to get you. Breath in sanity through your mouth, breath out the Cold War propaganda through your nose.

        by JesseCW on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:33:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But these stats... (0+ / 0-)

          ...include people who are in their 70's also (and uniformly exclude all those who died before their 55th birthday). If someone dies at 73 instead of 83, that reduces the life expectancy stats for those "over 55". Someone born in 1940 is only 73 years old today.

          It's hard to draw a lot of conclusions about the effect of smoking without a lot more data than contained here (or in linked sources). According to some sources, if someone quits smoking before 40 it has little impact on their life expectancy but if one smokes all their life, their overall life expectancy is reduced by about a decade. It seems we would need to know the smoking patterns (quantity, start and end of habit) broken down by gender and birthdate (1920 vs. 1940) to draw many conclusions on this matter.

  •  Yet another inhumanely CRUEL Dickensian (0+ / 0-)

    fact courtesy of the KOCH-BOUGHTS!

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:59:46 PM PDT

  •  The big thing about life expectancy (0+ / 0-)

    and Social Security or Medicare, is: the total expectancy grows dramatically when early childhood deaths decline.  The increase in overall life expectancy over the past sixty years is mostly that: fewer babies dying.

    Which is good news! But it also means that there hasn't been as much change in the number of years someone will be receiving Social Security or Medicare, once they start.  "Life expectancy at age 60" is a good way to weed this out.

    Early deaths don't affect the program much: no dollars in, none out.  A nice plague striking people at 61 would be great news for the programs, said the Grim Actuary.

  •  Many things ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, missississy, JG in MD

    some white women and probably black women as well have some unhealthy habits along with lifestyle to sustain.
    Many are caregivers..to sick children, grandchildren and husbands.. Many are sandwiches at age 60 or so caring for family and parents.   Many smoke due to stress.   Many do not exercise regularly and all worry and stress out too much.  
    They go to the doctor last in most cases.
    They go to jobs plus caregive.
    They are tired.
    They are still raising kids and have tons of money woes.
    I am included in all of the above.
    Bottom line we are too tired to take proper care and too poor to eat healthy and stay fit.  

    Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:08:59 PM PDT

  •  And why IS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    the likes of Alan Simpson still kicking and even listened to, much less...

    Oh, that's right.

  •  "Average life expectancy" figures misleading (0+ / 0-)

    I hate making or discussing policy based on "averages." If one person dies at age 100 and another at age 6 months, the average is 50. This tells you very little.

    So: Is it that millions of poor women are dying at age 69 rather than, say, 74? If so, then yes, that affects Social Security payouts.

    But I wonder if instead, a smaller number of poor women have been dying at 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 -- from kidney failure, a side effect of untreated diabetes, for example, or from drug overdoses, or from domestic violence. If that's the case, then those people never live long enough to collect Social Security at all, and increasing the retirement age would not affect them at all.

    Or there could be an increase in premie births among poor people (lack of prenatal care and good nutrition), which increases mortality under age 1, which brings down the average even more.

    I'd like to see a lot more detail on the age spread of these figures, before we know enough to base anything on them.

     

  •  that last quote is a doozy (0+ / 0-)
    "'It's really hard to come up with some effective means of trying to equalize this,' said Mr. Bosworth, 'and that's a serious concern.'"
    Well, lessee. There's progressive taxation, universal health care, regulation of unhealthy ingredients in food, food assistance, environmental protections to keep toxins contained, smoking cessation assistance, domestic abuse mitigation, education.................

    It's hard. It's really hard to come up with something (that doesn't require any kind of help or sacrifice from the uber elite.)

    Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

    by kamarvt on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 04:36:30 AM PDT

  •  being poor means a shorter life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek

    My father who is a ragging repub sent an article to me about progress made extending the human lifespan.
    Science (unfortunately in my view)is making progress towards advancing the human lifespan.  While this may sound like a good thing, my response to him was "yeah but how will we get rid of the ass holes?"
    Well, I didn't mean him, so had to write him back and say
    "I meant guys like Castro and Dick Waterboard Chain me.
    This sort of science will be only for the very rich. Or for
    God forbid guys like North Korea's dictator. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.
     I am very pro single payer healthcare, but only if it is for everyone , no exeptions, no one turned away. Society needs to be very clear and very adamant about this.
     My father is the first male in our family history to live past 60.  All the males in my family had heart attacks. My Dad (like dickey) had a heart operation that enabled him to see his 85th birthday.  I on the other hand will not be able to afford(without selling my house or bankruptcy) this operation should I need it. I turn 57 in June and you can bet I am worried.

    •  Are you unable to sign up under the ACA? (0+ / 0-)

      As in, are you in one of the red states that has denied the Medicaid expansion?

      I agree with you about Single Payer for All.

      Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

      The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
      ---> Bertrand Russell

      by smileycreek on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 02:18:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Missed the boat (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        smileycreek

        I guess I will try later in the year. Is that how it works?

        •  Pretty much you'll have to wait until October (0+ / 0-)

          if you missed open enrollment, unless you have a major life change, like losing your job etc. If you qualify you may yet be able to get Medicaid unless you're in a non-expansion state. It wouldn't hurt to check it out. I hope you're well until you can get insured and wish you the best.

          The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
          ---> Bertrand Russell

          by smileycreek on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 05:25:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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