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Won't a Smaller Workforce Make it Impossible to Pay Benefits in the Future?

Over the next 30 years, the number of workers per Social Security beneficiary will go from 3.3 to 2, about the same decline as over the last 35 years (from 5 to 3.3). And since the system has always adjusted to changing demographics in the past.

Over the next 30 years, the number of workers per Social Security beneficiary will go from 3.3 to 2, about the same decline as over the last 35 years (from 5 to 3.3). And since the system has always adjusted to changing demographics in the past — never failing to pay benefits — there is no reason to believe that this won’t be the case in the future.

Each worker today is supporting more beneficiaries than in 1960, while enjoying a higher standard of living. This will surely be the case in the future as well. The reason is that workers will continue to be more productive and earn higher wages. Even using conservative estimates, projected average wages are expected to more than double in real terms by 2070.

Also keep in mind that as the population is aging, the number of dependent children in our society is declining. This will enable us to shift our national priorities, as we’ve had to do constantly since 1946, when the huge baby boom generation began. Somehow we managed to school the boomers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s — when spending for education rose from 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product to 5.3 percent — and there’s no reason why we can’t also care for them in old age without plunging the nation into fiscal crisis.