The U.S. retirement age is rising, as the government pushes it higher and employees remain in careers longer.
However, lifespans aren’t necessarily extending to offer equal time. Data suggest Americans’ health is declining and millions of middle-age employees face the prospect of, retirements that are shorter, and less active than their parents enjoyed.
Here are the stats: The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate—a measure of the number of deaths annually—rose 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, based on the Society of Actuaries. That’s the first increase since 2005, and the rise greater than 1 percent since 1980.
At the exact same time that Americans’ life expectancy is stalling, public policy and career tracks mean millions of U.S. employees are waiting longer to call it quits. The age at which people can claim their Social Security benefits is gradually moving up, from 65 for people retiring in 2002 to 67 in 2027.
Almost one in three Americans age 65 to 69 is still working, along with nearly one in five in their early 70s.
Postponing retirement can make sense, because careers can make it possible to afford retirements that beyond age 90 or even 100. However, a study out this month adds that calculation and some warning.
Americans in their late 50s already have more health problems than people at the ages did according to the journal Health Affairs.
University of Michigan economists HwaJung Choi and Robert Schoeni used survey data to compare middle-age Americans’ wellbeing. An integral measure is whether people have trouble with an “activity of daily living,” or ADL, like walking across a room, bathing and dressing themselves, eating, or getting in or out of bed. The study showed the number of middle-age Americans with ADL limitations has jumped: 12.5 percent of Americans at the present retirement age of 66 had an ADL limitation in their late 50s, up from 8.8 percent for individuals with a retirement age of 65.
At the present retirement age of 66, a quarter of Americans age 58 to 60 rated themselves in “poor” or “#x 201D & fair; wellbeing. That’s up 2.6 points from the team who could retire with full benefits at 65, the Michigan researchers found.
Cognitive skills have declined over time. 11 percent already had some sort of dementia or other cognitive decline at age 58 according to the study. That’s up from 9.5 percent of Americans just a few years older, with a retirement age between 65 and 66.
While death rates can be volatile from year to year, Choi and Schoeni’s research is part of a raft of research showing the health of Americans deteriorating.
Scientists have offered many theories for why Americans’. Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize winner, have argued that an epidemic of suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol abuse have caused a spike in death rates.
Rates of obesity may also be taking their toll. And Americans might have already seen most of the benefits from previous positive developments that cut the death rate, such as a decrease in smoking and advances like statins that fight cardiovascular disease.
Life expectancy and health are good news for one constituency: Pension plans, which must send a monthly check to retirees for as long as they live.
According to the latest figures from the Society of Actuaries, life expectancy for pension participants has dropped since its last calculation by 0.2 decades. A 65-year-old man can expect to live to 85.6 decades, and a woman can expect to make it to 87.6. As a result, the group calculates a normal pension plan’s responsibilities could fall by 0.7 percent to 1 percent.
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