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Removing the Disincentives for Long Careers in the Social Security and Medicare Benefit Structure


Author Info

  • Gopi Shah Goda

    (Stanofrd University)

  • John Shoven

    (Stanford Institue for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University)

  • Sita Slavov

    (Economics Department, Occidental College)


When Social Security was instituted in 1935, the period life expectancy at age 20 for males was 66 and for females 69. Today, 20-year-old males have a period life expectancy of 76 and females, 80. This increase in life expectancy has been accompanied by a corresponding improvement in health at all ages. Cutler, Liebman, and Smyth (2005) find that, in terms of mortality, men at age 68 in 2000 have roughly the same mortality risk as men at age 62 in 1960. Thus, at a same age, men in the year 2000 are roughly six years younger. In terms of self assessed health status, they find that the difference is even larger, approximately ten years. Their bottom line is, “Our best guess is that people aged 62 in the 1960s are in equivalent health to people aged 70 or more today.” In related work, Shoven (2004) suggested that the age of elderly people is more appropriately measured by remaining life expectancy than by years since birth. In his most recent work, Shoven (2007) introduces the concept of “real ages” in contrast to “nominal ages” with real ages depending on mortality risk rather than years since birth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-058.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-058

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Related research

Keywords: Social Security; Real Age; life expectancy;

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  1. Martin Feldstein & Andrew Samwick, 1992. "Social Security Rules and Marginal Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 3962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jonathan Gruber & David Wise, 1997. "Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Introduction and Summary of Papers by..," NBER Working Papers 6134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gary Burtless & Joseph F. Quinn, 2002. "Is Working Longer the Answer for an Aging Workforce?," Issues in Brief ib2002-11, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2002.
  4. Robert Fenge & Silke Uebelmesser & Martin Werding, 2002. "Second-best Properties of Implicit Social Security Taxes: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 743, CESifo Group Munich.
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Cited by:
  1. David C. Stapleton, 2009. "Employment Support for the Transition to Retirement: Can a New Program Help Older Workers Continue to Work and Protect Those Who Cannot?," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 6248, Mathematica Policy Research.


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