Friday, July 29, 2005

Aging: Economics and Investing

Our only hope: retiring later by Jim Jubak

Jim Jubak is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in investing. This column touches on the economic problem of the aging population.

My solution is based on common sense and my observations of what people actually do in retirement: They work. It's based on a belief that we'd fix the so-called crisis if we could just get more productive work out of older workers, by improving their jobs so they'd voluntarily stay on at work, or by giving them resources and support to start post-retirement careers.

That pretty much has to be part of the solution. While the United States is rich even we are not rich enough to have people work for 40 years and not work for 40 years. Retirement at 65 was set when most people died before or soon after that date. It just is not realistic to think we can live at the standards of living we expect and only work from 25-65.

If people want to cut the standard of living during the 80 years they live that would be one tradeoff they could make. I don't believe his contention that savings is not a reasonable significant part of the solution (if that is what he means by "The whole world is getting old pretty much all at once, so saving more and investing at higher returns won't do the trick."
The issue of how to deal with the economic consequences of aging population is an important issue to consider today. It is something I need to continue to study. But we also need to be taking action now on things like increasing the full retirement age for Social Security, increasing the saving rate, decreasing the current yearly federal deficit (and private pension liabilities), providing ways for those in their 60's and 70's to participate in the economy that work well (probably part time, more flexible work arrangements, etc.).

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