3. The share of the U.S. population over 65 is projected to rise from 12 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2050 in the United States, but in the same year it is projected to reach 25 percent in France, 30 percent in Germany, 33 percent in Italy, and 37 percent in Japan (Census Bureau, 2007).

  

4. One difficulty in setting standards for assessing budgets over the long term concerns the proper horizon for projecting policy effects and assessing sustainability. A good discussion is by Ulla (2006:160-162), who argues that, although “the possibility to forecast beyond the next 50 years may be low … going beyond 50 years may provide information to help reformulate present entitlement programmes and build a strategy to deal with future challenges.” The Social Security and Medicare actuaries focus on a 75-year horizon, long enough to encompass the lifetimes of most people who are already alive.



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