Sue Hutchinson wrote a nice article that discusses the closing of the gender gap in longevity. But I’m hopefull for a followup. Seems that there’s serious talk in the social security reform set of taking into account women’s “longer” lifespans by reducing benefits (e.g. Meet the Press last month) right when we don’t seem to have that edge anymore:
“MR. RUSSERT: Do you think Congress, Mr. Chairman, would accept any formula that said that people would be treated differently because of their gender or their race?
REP. THOMAS: If we discuss it and the will is not to do it, fine. At least we discussed it. To simply raise the age and find out that you’ve got gender, race and occupational problems later, I would not be doing the kind of service that I think I have to do. You and I have been around quite a while. We went through the ’80s. We went into the ’90s. And now we’re in the 21st century. We saw the choices that were made in the past. We went to the well over and over again with the same old solutions which really aren’t solutions. We’ve reached the point where we have to fundamentally examine it in my opinion. The president has given us that opportunity. We ought to take it.”
So what if there is no “longer” lifespan for women within the next 30 years if these factors Sue described continue? The reset for social security is then based on an outdated premise? Coupled with lower lifetime earnings by women, looks like the reforms in social security could create a new subclass of permanently improverished women.