It may not feel this way to the millions of Americans who can’t afford to retire, but there’s an economic upside to delaying retirement.
As people are forced to work longer in life, they’ll generate additional tax revenue that could reduce federal budget deficits and spending on Social Security.
That’s the thesis of a new book by two fellows at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, D.C.
The increase in work could boost government revenue by as much as $2.1 trillion over the next three decades, according to the book “Closing the Deficit -- How Much Can Later Retirement Help?” by Gary Burtless and Henry Aaron.
Expenditures on Social Security and Medicare could decrease by more than $600 billion as people delay tapping into those programs. The total effect, including savings on interest from smaller annual deficits, could narrow the gap between government revenue and spending by more than $4 trillion through 2040.
The book points out that people older than 60 have been steadily delaying retirement over the last 20 years. From 1991 to 2010, the employment rate increased by more than half among 68-year-old men and by about two-thirds among women the same age, according to the book.
Of course, none of this is consolation for a generation of Americans facing the gloomy prospect of working well into what used to be the golden years.
The incomes of Americans who used to rely primarily on Social Security will be higher as they remain in the workforce, but only because they will need the extra cash to boost their savings.