Sunday, January 20, 2013

Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

by Paul Krugman

Some readers may have noticed a recent op-ed by King and Soneji alleging that Social Security projections understate life expectancy and are therefore far too optimistic. This claim will, I’m sure, become part of what all the serious people think they know.

But the Social Security actuaries have replied (pdf), offering among other things one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of a brutally polite intellectual takedown:
King and Soneji developed their own projection methodology for mortality and made a series of assertions in their op-ed about the methods used by the Office of the Chief Actuary. As with all new entrants into this field of analysis, their work may ultimately provide value in the continuing evolution of our methods. However, the assertions in their op-ed require some response and clarification.
Oh, snap. (Or since we’re talking about social insurance, SNAP).

So yes, the Social Security Administration knows about obesity and smoking, and incorporates this into its projections. More broadly, SSA has not failed to anticipate rising life expectancy; on the contrary, it has if anything been slightly over-optimistic.

An almost unrelated note: since I am, as you can see, a devotee of adding relevant YouTube videos to blog posts, I was glad to see Jonathan Cohn bring the killer rabbit into the debt ceiling denouement — and especially gratified that I decided not to use the same thing, and went for a poker-playing cat instead. But this then raises the question: what if the Republicans bring out the holy hand grenade?

Paul Krugman, NYT


Bill Moyers Interviews Paul Krugman

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