Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Crisis in Entitlements

We all know about the looming crisis of Social Security as more and more baby boomers ready for retirement. But perhaps due to my failure to see the world through a post-modern lens, I have failed to grasp on one of the key sources of potential political conflict surrounding social security. As this article on CNN notes:

The U.S. Census notes that the United States will no longer have a white majority by 2050. Social Security payments for an aging white population will have to be paid by an increasingly brown and black work force, which may resent such support.

According to a report published by the Pew Research Center in February 2008, in 2050 the American population will be 47% Caucasian, 29% Latino, 13% African-American, and 9% Asian. More significantly, the Caucasian population will be, on average, much older; while Caucausians constituted 68% of the working-age population in 2005, they will only be 45% in 2050, while Latinos compose 31%, African-Americans 14%, and Asians 10%. While it is worth noting that “working age” does not necessarily mean “in the labor force” (for example, minorities have higher unemployment rates, and as such are not paying FICA taxes), the trend is inarguable. It will be interesting to see how the political left, staunch defenders of both social security/entitlements and civil rights/communitarianism, handles this inescapable fact. I cannot image it will be pretty.

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