How Is the Mortality Gap Affecting Social Security Progressivity?

IB#18-16

The brief’s key findings are:

  • While Americans are generally living longer, the gains have been unequal; those with higher socioeconomic status (SES) have substantially longer lifespans.
  • This growing mortality gap works against Social Security’s progressive benefit design, as higher-SES individuals end up getting their benefits for a longer period.
  • As a result, studies find that the mortality gap has significantly reduced – though not eliminated – the overall progressivity of the Social Security program.