Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor

Working Is Better Than Taxing the Boomers

The latest data from OECD analysis report a cumulative $2 trillion long-term increase in GDP if employment rates were raised to the current Swedish level, now inching close to 70.

Joseph Sternberg is absolutely right about the adverse effect of Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to tax baby boomers (“How Do You Tax A Baby Boomer?,” Political Economics, Sept. 13). Yet it surprises me how stuck in a 20th-century work-retirement model even the usually perceptive and insightful Mr. Sternberg seems to be.

As lifespans in our 21st century extend 30 years beyond even late 20th-century norms, more of us are working longer, if differently. The Dutch-based insurer Aegon, for example, reports from its survey data of roughly 100,000 across OECD countries that a whopping 73% of us want to work well past 20th-century retirement age. In Japan, where there is what they call “super aging” and its attendant impact on the disproportionate demographic of more old than young, over 40% of employers are keeping people working past that arbitrary and clearly outdated 60-something retirement age.

Yes, Mr. Sternberg, “old people eventually stop working,” but if we reimagine “old” and we stop at 75 or 80 instead of 60 or 65, the calculations look vastly different. This brings us back to the basic argument Mr. Sternberg has with candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to tax baby boomers in their retirement, about which he is correct. It would be better if we focused instead on job creation for all of us, including as we age, which will enable the steady tax contributions we get from labor and add substantially to GDP growth.

The latest data from OECD analysis report a cumulative $2 trillion long-term increase in GDP if employment rates were raised to the current Swedish level, now inching close to 70.

Michael W. Hodin
CEO, Global Coalition on Aging
New York

Source: Wall Street Journal

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