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U.S. Seniors Are a Hard-Working Bunch

July 17, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Financial pressures are leading many European Union (EU) countries to encourage older workers to remain in the labor force, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reports. By way of comparison, U.S. seniors are more likely to be in the workforce than their peers in almost every other developed country.

Nearly 30 percent of Americans ages 65 through 69 were employed in 2012. That's about three times the European average, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (see chart).

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Among large, highly developed countries worldwide, only a few had more than 20 percent of their 65- to 69-year-olds on the job, and only Japan and Korea topped the U.S. figure.

Elsewhere we've noted that our Social Security system pays pretty modest benefits compared with other advanced nations. And Social Security already has a number of money-saving provisions that European nations are moving to emulate, such as an early-retirement age that's higher than many other countries' (62), lower benefits for people who take early retirement, a high and rising age for full benefits (66, soon to be 67), and a bonus for people who delay retirement.

The moral? Our seniors already work harder and get lower benefits than their counterparts in most other rich countries. So imposing big benefit cuts on ordinary seniors would be the wrong way to restore Social Security solvency.

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