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Krugman: Life Expectancy Zombie Argument

March 5, 2013

Paul Krugman has just published on his NYTimes blog: “The Life Expectancy Zombie” about a debate he had with “JoScar” in which Scarborough refers to the rising life expectancy as reason Social Security can’t survive.

krugman zombie
quotes directly from Social Security website to explain that:

life expectancy at birth in the early decades of the 20th century was low due mainly to high infant mortality, and someone who died as a child would never have worked and paid into Social Security

So with less infant mortality, we should actually have more people paying into the system throughout their lives and then arguably the proportion of workers who pay in and survive should be about the same (though I don’t see any evidence for that provided). Krugman says Scarborough “proved himself ignorant, disingenuous, or both.” But it still seems to me like this argument is not so easily ascertained. Maybe I am just overly hopeful that more people are living more years. Maybe I am just buying into too much of the medical community’s hype, but I think more numbers needed to really prove his point.

Krugman concludes:

I should have been ready to see this zombie attack me during the debate, but I wasn’t. Silly me. Well, as a friend used to say, none of us are human.

Were we ever?

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