Social Security overestimates death rates: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Social Security Administration, which pays out $600 billion a year in benefits to retirees, may have underestimated how a decline in smoking will increase life expectancy, two experts reported on Monday.

Haidong Wang of the University of Washington in Seattle and Samuel Preston of the University of Pennsylvania said their calculations showed that by 2035 a man’s odds of surviving from age 50 to age 85 will be 22.5 percent greater than projected, and a woman’s odds more than 7 percent greater.

This could affect the Social Security Administration’s budget, which now calculates that by 2034, 74 million Americans over the age of 65 will be living, compared to 38.6 million now.

“What may be bad news for the fiscal balance of the Social Security system is good news for the population as a whole and especially for men,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Because of changes in smoking behavior that have already occurred or that can be reliably projected, American mortality is likely to fall more rapidly than is commonly anticipated.”

In November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the U.S. adult smoking rate fell below 20 percent for the first time on record. It was 42 percent in 1964.

Smoking and secondhand smoke kill 443,000 people annually from cancer, lung disease, heart disease and other causes, the CDC says. Half of all long-term smokers, especially those who start as teens, die prematurely, many in middle age.

“Although epidemiologic studies have identified cigarette smoking as an important risk factor in mortality for at least a half century, there is no consensus on how great the risk is,” Preston and Wang wrote.

They noted that an American Cancer Society study showed that white male smokers aged 40 to 84 were 91 percent more likely to die than non-smokers and white women 46 percent more likely to die than non-smokers.

When they took into account the drop in smoking rates, Preston and Wang projected that mortality rates would fall more quickly by 2034 than the Social Security Administration has predicted.

The government projection gives a 50-year-old man only a 39 percent probability of living to age 85 in 2034, compared to Wang and Preston’s estimate of 57 percent.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Eric Beech)


Related Posts:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cigarette smoking is associated with the occurrence of colorectal cancer and with mortality from the disease, according to a multinational team. “Because smoking can potentially be controlled by individual and population-related measures, detecting a link between colorectal cancer and smoking could help reduce the burden of the world’s third most common

Full Post: Smoking linked to colorectal cancer deaths

By Amy Norton NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Offering yet another reason to never start smoking, a new study finds that both current and former smokers run an elevated risk of the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation. The condition, also known as AF, is the most common heart arrhythmia in the U.S., affecting about 2 million people.

Full Post: Smoking ups risk of common heart rhythm problem

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) appears to help people who are depressed after suffering a heart attack to avoid smoking cigarettes, but only if they believe they have adequate social support, new research shows. The findings suggest that most smokers will need more than CBT alone to give up the habit after

Full Post: Therapy helps some kick habit after heart attack

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smokers whose family members have had a type of bleeding stroke are six times more likely to suffer the same fate than people without these risk factors, according to a new study. The stroke type known as an “aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage” — essentially a burst blood vessel in the brain —

Full Post: Smoking ups brain-bleed risk with family history

LONDON (Reuters) - Keeping a full social calendar may help protect you from dementia, researchers said on Monday. Socially active people who were not easily stressed had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared with men and women who were isolated and prone to distress, they reported in the journal Neurology. “In the past, studies

Full Post: Go to a party to cut dementia risk, study suggests

Site Navigation

Most Read