June 1, 2010 — NIRS writes in The New York TimesRoom for Debate that longer lives have become an economic bogeyman. A closer look at the data reveals not only can we afford retirement, we can afford more of it.
In fact, improvements in longevity are very gradual and quite predictable. Over the past half-century, life expectancy at age 65 has improved by about 1 month with each passing year. In 1950, 65 year-old men lived, on average, to age 78. Today, the average 65 year old man lives to about age 82.
While additional years in retirement does cost money, but the steady nature of longevity increases makes it easy to plan financially for longer lives, and the costs of those added years is actually quite modest. A recent study by Buck Consultants determined that longer life-spans add only about 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent to the cost of a typical pension plan each year.
At the end of the day, whether or not retirement is deemed “affordable” depends as much on our willingness to pay as our ability to pay. A policy choice to balance budgets by raising retirement ages is a judgment call.