It would seem that the US retirement age is rising as the government pushes it higher and workers are also choosing to stay in employment for longer.
Almost one in three Americans aged 65 to 69 are still working and almost one in five are still working in their early 70’s.
Whilst it might make financial sense to work longer, postponing your retirement would ultimately make retirement affordable well past the age of 90, this strategy only works if you actually do live to this ripe old age.
Data released last week suggest Americans’ health is declining and millions of middle-age workers face the prospect of shorter, and less active, retirements than their parents enjoyed.
According to the Society of Actuaries, the US age adjusted mortality rate—a measure of the number of deaths per year—rose 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2015. That’s the first year-over-year increase since 2005, and only the second rise greater than 1 percent since 1980.
A study out this month by the Journal of Health Affairs revealed that Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same ages did 10 to 15 years ago.
University of Michigan economists HwaJung Choi and Robert Schoeni used survey data to compare middle-age Americans’ health. A key measure was whether people had trouble with an “activity of daily living,” or ADL, such as walking across a room, dressing and bathing 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 current retirement age of 66 had an ADL limitation in their late 50s, up from 8.8 percent for people with a retirement age of 65.
At the current retirement age of 66, a quarter of Americans age 58 to 60 rated themselves in “poor” or “fair” health. That’s up 2.6 points from the group who could retire with full benefits at 65, the Michigan researchers found.
Cognitive skills have also declined over time. For those with a retirement age of 66, 11 percent already had some kind of dementia or other cognitive decline at age 58 to 60, 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.
Obviously death rates can change from year to year, but Choi and Schoeni’s study is just part of a huge amount of other research that proves the health of Americans is deteriorating fast.
Researchers have given many theories as to why Americans’ health is deteriorating. 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 among middle-age whites.
Higher rates of obesity may also be adding to these stats and Americans may have already taken advantage of most of the benefits from previous positive developments that cut the death rate, such as a decline in smoking and medical advances like statins that fight cardiovascular disease.
Declining health and life expectancy are good news for pension plans though. According to the latest figures from the Society of Actuaries, life expectancy for pension participants has dropped since its last calculation by 0.2 years. A 65-year-old man can expect to live to 85.6 years, and a woman can expect to make it to 87.6. As a result, the group calculates a typical pension plan’s obligations could fall by 0.7 percent to 1 percent.
Given the above data, wouldn’t it make sense for our generation to start taking some really positive steps to taking our personal health and wellbeing into our own hands? Self awareness and education are key to understanding the dangers the baby boomers are facing with regard to their health. Start taking a proactive approach now to your own health and wellness plan so we can reverse the trend.