Freeman

ANYTHING PEACEFUL

Watch Your Facts

SEPTEMBER 05, 2011 by SHELDON RICHMAN

When we argue against government programs, it is of the utmost importance that we get the facts right. Otherwise we undermine our credibility and hurt the cause of liberty. (Yes, there are negative externalities.)

A popular debating point against Social Security is that when it was enacted in 1935, life expectancy was about 60. So, it is asked, what’s the use of a benefit program that kicks in at age 65?

The problem is, that is life expectancy at birth. (It was actually 61.7 for men and women of all races.) But that figure is misleading because it includes infant mortality and childhood deaths. Life expectancy at 50 was much higher number. The Social Security site says that in 1940, Americans who reached age 65 on average lived 13.7 more years. In 1940, there were 9 million American 65 and older, about 7 percent of the population of 132,164,569.

That gives a different picture, doesn’t it?


Filed Under : Social Security

ABOUT

SHELDON RICHMAN

Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and TheFreemanOnline.org, and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families.

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Heavily-armed police and their supporters will tell you they need all those armored trucks and heavy guns. It's a dangerous job, not least because Americans have so many guns. But the numbers just don't support these claims: Policing is safer than ever--and it's safer than a lot of common jobs by comparison. Daniel Bier has the analysis. Plus, Iain Murray and Wendy McElroy look at how the Feds are recruiting more and more Americans to do their policework for them.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION