Should the retirement age rise as lives get longer?

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American workers are more likely to support raising the retirement age than their peers in other countries.

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In a global survey of workers by Aegon, 32 percent of Americans said that they would support increasing the retirement age in line with increases in life expectancy, while on average only 20 percent of workers around the world feel that way. Only workers in India were more likely to agree with raising the retirement age as life expectancy increases, with 45 percent of respondents showing support. Workers in Germany and Spain were the least likely to agree, with only 10 percent supporting a higher retirement age.

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“Raising the retirement age is a complex issue,” Catherine Collinson, president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and executive director of the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement said in a statement. “On one hand, it can pave the way for people to extend their working years and continue saving for retirement. But, on the other hand, it can only be successful if employment opportunities are available to older workers.”

The survey found that 17 percent of Americans believed that the retirement age should increase except for those in dangerous jobs or manual workers. A 2014 Government Accountability Office study found that such workers are 55 percent more likely to claim early benefits.

The current full retirement age is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954, but they can claim reduced benefits when they turn 62.

American workers expect 43 percent of their income to come from Social Security and other government benefits. If no changes are made to the current Social Security program, its reserves are expected to run out by 2037.

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Should the retirement age rise as lives get longer?