John Leland writing in the NYT relays an excellent point form Teresa Ghilarducci about raising the Social Security retirement age:
“People who need to retire early — and they need to — are folks that start working in their late teens, whereas people who are promoting raising the retirement age are people who were in graduate school or professional school and got into jobs that would logically take them into their late 60s and 70s,” she said.
There’s also the fact that life expectancy is stratified by class:
A world where we expect people to retire at seventy is a world in which poor men can expect to work for 52 years followed by about five years of retirement. Highly educated workers, by contrast, might put in 45 years or so of work followed by about ten years of retirement. That’s perverse.
It’s worth noting, however, that it’s already the case that relatively few workers—especially those in physically taxing fields—wait until 65 before claiming their Social Security benefits. Instead the tendency is to take “early retirement” at 62, which pays you lower annual benefits. Proposals to “raise the retirement age” are typically proposals to raise the full benefits eligibility age. People who have physically taxing jobs or who get laid off will generally still retire at 62 (in general, firms are not usually looking to hire unemployed 60-somethings) it’s just that their benefits will be even lower than they are today. This is normally discussed in terms of “raising the retirement age” to create a false atmosphere of common sense about the thing, but we’ll get clearer thinking about the policy options if you call proposals for benefit cuts what they are—proposals for benefit cuts.