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Patrick Osio called to my attention this very informative article he produced last September.
I agree that his two recommendations (increased immigration and better training of the Hispanic workforce) are key levers in addressing the social security insolvency problem created by the changing ratio of workers to retirees.
But I disagree with his lumping of private accounts with other solutions "that fix nothing fundamentally". Private accounts, in essence, move some of the burden of supporting the future excess retirees to the current excess workers (to the future retirees themselves) and go to the core of the problem ("fix" the ratio).
I agree with him that the other "obvious" solutions are merely stopgap measures that fix nothing fundamental; and with the main premise of the article: the future well being of the retirees rests on the shoulders of the Hispanic youth in a disproportion fashion; it is in our own self-interest to see that this is a growing and competent workforce.
Pedro Celis, Ph.D.
Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Washington State Chairman

Globalist Perspective > Global Society
Hispanic Youth to America's Rescue?

By Patrick Osio, Jr. | Wednesday, September 22, 2004

America’s baby boomers are nearing retirement, which will have to be supported by fewer young workers than ever before. Patrick Osio, a journalist with Hispanic Vista, points out that America’s Hispanic youths will be an integral part in countering any future social security crunch. But they will need some help in gaining the necessary job skills.

Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington suggested that the United States ignores the dual culture of U.S. Hispanics — the “Hispanic Challenge” — at its own peril.

A clash of generations

He is absolutely right – but not for the reasons he promotes.

Investing in better educating Hispanic youths in America should be considered — not as a favor to Hispanic-Americans — but as an investment in the U.S. economy and the national retirement plan.

Rather, the real challenge for U.S. society is how to give young Hispanics the skills they will need to support the country’s aging non-Hispanic white population.

The peril faced by the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) part of the population described by Huntington is that they are aging very fast — and that their social security benefits will depend on the earning power of young U.S. Hispanics to a degree that few Americans today realize.

A shrinking support-base

To illustrate why, consider that in 1950, there were 16 workers for each person receiving social security retirement benefits. That figure had dropped to 3.3 workers per beneficiary by 1994.

And the ratio between workers and recipients will only drop further. By 2025, there will be down to two workers — and by 2050 to 1.3 workers per recipient.

What are the numbers?

This is where the Hispanic population comes in, which overall is much younger than the non-Hispanic white population.

Among Hispanics, 48% are under 25 years old — and only 19% are 45 or older.

Among Hispanics, 48% are under 25 years old and only 19% are 45 or older. There are 2.6 young Hispanics for every mature Hispanic worker or retiree.

Among non-Hispanic whites, the numbers are very different: 32% are under 25, while 38% are 45 or older. That adds up to less than one young person for every mature worker or retiree.

The hitch

This obviously means that Hispanics will play a disproportionately large future role in financing social security benefits for elderly Americans.

The problem is that Hispanics make less money on average — and thus pay fewer contributions into the system than many of the non-Hispanic white Americans who will be retiring soon.

What it all adds up to

Presently, the three-year annual average earning of non-Hispanic whites is $47,194 —while the average for Hispanics is $33,946.

Presently, 21.8% of Hispanics possess only elementary education.

The combination of social security taxes paid by employee and employers amounts to 15.3% of income, up to a level of $87,900.

Because of their higher average incomes, non-Hispanic whites on average pay $7,220 in social security taxes each year, while Hispanics only pay about $5,193 — a difference of $2,027.

This may not seem like much, but it adds up to a difference of $2 billion or more for every one million workers.

Plan ahead

When today’s non-Hispanic white workers reach retirement age and start collecting their social security benefits, the working-age population will be far more heavily Hispanic than today.

The real challenge is to prepare today’s young people so that they will have high future earnings, generating ample tax revenue with which to cover the social security promises to today’s workers. This means that special attention must be given to preparing Hispanic youth for high-paying jobs.

Avoiding the obvious

Elected officials are far more preoccupied with ”solutions” to the social security financing problem — like private accounts — that fix nothing fundamentally.

Because of their higher average incomes, non-Hispanic whites on average pay $7,220 in social security taxes each year, while Hispanics only pay about $5,193 — a difference of $2,027.

Over the years, various stopgap measures have been introduced: Taxes have been raised, as have taxable earnings. Benefits have been reduced as well, by postponing the age of retirement.

In 2004, full benefits are obtained at age 65 and four months. Each year, this retirement age will increase by two months — until full benefit retirement age will have reached 67.

For today’s workers, this amounts to a benefit reduction combined with an additional two years of contributions.

Other choices

Without raising taxes again or increasing retirement age any further, there are two alternatives left, both of which are important for all Americans — but especially for Hispanics.

The first is to invest in the education and preparation of U.S. youth to achieve higher earnings and higher contributions.

A smart decision

The second is to increase the number of young immigrants allowed into the United States.

By 2025, there will be two workers for each person receiving social security benefits.

They can carry part of the load by raising the number of available workers per retiree.

Investing in better educating and preparing Hispanic youths should be considered not as a favor to Hispanic-Americans, but as an investment in the national economy and the national retirement plan.


Developing our resources

Presently, 21.8% of Hispanics possess only elementary education. This has to undergo a dramatic change in the next 10-15 years. And greater emphasis must be placed on education for the trades.

Not everyone is destined for college, and there are huge numbers of well paying jobs in the trades — but little educational emphasis and attention is paid to this type of preparation.

The obvious answer

To retirees, it makes little difference whether the workers paying their retirement benefits speak Spanish, Hindi or any other language among themselves or at home.

Retirees could care less if the workers paying payroll taxes retain their former homeland’s culture or enjoy media in their ancestral language.

What would really bother retirees would be to receive a letter from the social security administration announcing benefit cuts.

So, yes, let white, non-Hispanic America continue worrying about Hispanic culture. But white America avoids investing in its future workers and taxpayers — in Hispanic youth — at its own peril.

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