NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 18, 2005

With the prospect of more than 30 million Americans starting to retire next year, many developing countries expect a windfall, says the Wall Street Journal. Which raises the question: Should the United States "outsource" baby boomers' golden years?

Labor is one cost of retirement to consider. The United States depends heavily on immigrants to serve retirees in the many kinds of services they need:

  • According to the 2000 U.S. Census, more than one million U.S. hospital, nursing-home and other health-care workers were born abroad; nearly 350,000 of them are immigrants from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
  • The leading Caribbean and Latin American countries sending health care workers to the United States include Mexico (70,044), Jamaica (64,331) and Haiti (40,581).

Sending U.S. retirees abroad represents one step toward closing that intractable labor gap, says the Journal.

Indeed, foreign retirement is becoming quite the norm elsewhere, says the Journal. In Europe, more than a million German, Scandinavian, Dutch and British citizens live most of the year near the Mediterranean coasts of Italy, Spain and Greece. They enjoy the benefits of the European Union which does not require visas to resettle, and their insurance, pensions and bank accounts are portable across borders.

In 2001, the U.S. Congress took a step toward facilitating retirement overseas when it authorized Tricare, the health maintenance organization for retired members of the military, to process claims of veterans abroad. However, Medicare, the health insurance carried by most seniors, does not recognize claims for U.S. citizens retiring overseas.

Source: Joel Millman, "Developing Nations Lure Retirees, Raising Idea of 'Outsourcing' Boomers' Golden Years," Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2005.

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