Increased longevity will mean higher costs for government services 

One of the most-commonly suggested ideas to trim budgets is to raise the ages at which individuals can become eligible for government programs like Social Security or Medicare. A new study that came out in the U.K. suggests that this is a definite must considering that the number of people living past 100 is going to skyrocket in the next few years:

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, an estimated 10 million of Britain's current residents, or 17% of the population, will live to be at least 100 years old.

The report predicts that by 2066 there will be at least 507,000 UK residents aged 100 or over, including 7,700 people aged 110 or over.

The figures represent a significant increase on the current 11,800 people in the UK who are at least 100 years old, while those currently aged 110 or over is less than 100.

By 2080, the report projects that there could be as many as 626,900 people in the Britain aged 100 or more, with 21,000 of those being at least 110.

More than likely similar trends will happen in America as well. If the middle-of-the-road U.S. Census projections are correct for 2050, there will be about 380 million people living in this country. Just to be safe, let's say that only 15% of them are at least 100. That means a full 57 million people in the U.S. will be over 100 years old, all of whom will have been on Social Security and Medicare assitance for at least three decades. And that's not factoring in the additional expeditures that are set to roll out in a few years under the just-passed health care law.

Serving this increasely aged population is going to be the biggest challenge of the U.S. welfare state. The current per-capita spending and age limits are going to have to change. The only question is to what degree.

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Matthew Sheffield

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