Booster Shots

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Live long, but prosper?

December 15, 2009 |  4:40 pm
There could be more old people in 2050 than the government thinks -- and they could cost the government an unanticipated $3.2 trillion to $8.3 trillion.

The study from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society calculated that Americans might live nearly three to eight years longer than the Social Security Administration or the Census Bureau have predicted. The study got quite a bit of buzz Monday, possibly because it managed to hit the panic button on the dashboard of a nation with a sputtering economy and in the throes of a nasty healthcare battle.

That said, it's not like the government is unaware of its graying population. The Social Security and Medicare burdens have been on the collective political consciousness for years. Let's put this in a little perspective, courtesy of the Congressional Research Service, circa August 2006: "Future mortality and survival are, however, difficult to predict and specialists disagree on not only the level but also the direction of future trends."

In other words? Eh. Your guess is as good as mine.

-- Amina Khan