Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pension Congestion? Life is a Freeway. Lift the Limit from 65 to 70.

In 1940, an American enjoyed 12 years of life upon retirement, on the average. In 2007, an American is expected to enjoy over 17.5 years upon retirement. This long retirement period of 17.5 years is both the good news and the bad news.

The good news is of course that we all wish to live long lives and the outlook is good. The bad news is that retirement systems worldwide cannot support so many retirees living for so long.

This is one area where indeed Hawaii is not alone, but its government employee retirement system is among the five most troublesome in the U.S. George Berish, an expert in the field, has explained this in a series of articles in the Civil Beat.

The critical measure for the future health of a state's or country's overall retirement system health is the Support Ratio. This is the number that shows how many working people support one retiree.

In 1970 the U.S. had 5.3 workers supporting one retiree. In 2010 the number of workers per retiree dropped to 4.6. This is alarming enough but it gets much worse. In 2050 the estimation is that there will be only 2.6 workers per retiree, so over 25% of their earnings will have to go to the retirement fund to support retirees. At that point overall taxation will surpass 60%, and in theory it is best to move to another country.

Not so fast!

Read my full article in HAWAII REPORTER.