Because more people will receive benefits, Social Security will grow faster than the total economy, or gross domestic product (GDP). How much faster will it grow as a share of the economy?
Social Security benefits amounted to 5 percent of GDP in 2016. By 2035, Social Security benefits in current law are projected to be 6.1 percent of GDP. That is an increase of 1.1 percentage points over the current cost of the program.
How does that 1.1 percentage point increase compare with past changes in national spending when the baby boomers were children? Public spending for education grew about twice as much as the projected increase in Social Security. Public education spending – by local, state and federal governments – grew from 2.5 percent of GDP in 1950, just before boomers began to enter kindergarten, to 5.3 percent of GDP by 1975. This was an increase of 2.8 percentage points.
For more information, see:
- Social Security Benefits, Finances, and Policy Options: A Primer
- Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2013 Trustees Report, Social Security Brief No. 42
- Social Security Beneficiaries Face 19% Cut; New Revenue Can Restore Balance, Social Security Brief No. 37
- Strengthening Social Security for the Long Run, Social Security Brief No. 35
- Protecting the Vulnerable, Spurring the Economy: Social Insurance in an Economic Downturn
Read what some Academy members think:*
- Jennifer Clark: “Project on Social Security in Rural Areas Reveals Impact of the Program on Local Economies” (2012)
- Alex Stone: “Improving Social Security’s Benefits is Critical to Economic Recovery and Security” (2011)
- Janice Gregory: “Social Security and Budget Deficits: Don’t Lose Sight of the Facts”(2010)
* The views of Academy members are their own and not an official position of the National Academy of Social Insurance or its funders.