Which Life Expectancy?

Some helpful hints for our friends who’ve been poking fun at former Senator Alan Simpson, with an extra assist from the Social Security Administration.

What is period life expectancy? The SSA tells us:

The period life expectancy at a given age for a given year represents the average number of years of life remaining if a group of persons at that age were to experience the mortality rates for that year over the course of their remaining lives.

Then there is something called cohort life expectancy, which the SSA tracks as well:

The cohort life expectancy at a given age for a given year represents the average number of years of life remaining if a group of persons at that age were to experience the mortality rates for the series of years in which they reach each succeeding age.

Note that period life expectancy and cohort life expectancy aren’t the same thing

I wouldn’t have considered this terribly important had I not read Charles Blahous’s work on Social Security. There is much more to say about Social Security, e.g., that the early retirement option didn’t exist in 1940 and that benefits grow at a faster rate than they did in the old days, but I will leave that to my colleagues at Economics 21, who will release a short paper on this subject later this week. For now, I recommend Blahous’s excellent Economics 21 commentary on the case for restraining the growth in benefits to affluent retirees. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More