Recent articles

I recently expressed some doubts about the idea of “progress”.  David Rose has a short essay that provides one example of how society is regressing:

Not long ago, it was possible for people with dramatically different views to talk to each other about what they believed and why they believed it. They were not afraid to speak their minds. And even when debate did not lead to agreement, the very act of discussion led them to connect to that person, to view him or her as an individual and not an objectified silhouette from the tribe of “them.”

Anyone over the age of 55 cannot imagine any leftist hippie in the 1960s or ’70s tolerating any censoring of another person’s speech. But today an increasing number of young people intimidate each other into silence so often that it is becoming a habit. Without realizing it, students are increasingly self-censoring to avoid being shunned. This is making them paranoid and miserable. Worst of all, they are getting used to it. That is a very dangerous thing for a free society. To say it is Orwellian is an understatement because it is occurring at a cultural level.

For decades I sat at the lunch table at Bentley College, free to say whatever I wanted.  I feel bad for younger academics that no longer have that freedom.

People often claim that China wants to impose its (illiberal) system on the rest of the world. But what sort of system do the Chinese actually prefer in other countries? Here’s The Economist:

Russian rent-seekers and their short-term interests play a central role in the Sino-Russian relationship. “Sometimes it seems that Russia’s policy towards China is shaped by the lobbying interests of the Kremlin’s heavyweights,” says Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think-tank. The same is not true in reverse. Private Chinese firms are reluctant to invest in Russia. Some fear American sanctions; others worry about the lack of property rights and clear rules. To operate in Russia, you need what Chinese businessmen now call bao hu san—a protective umbrella provided by siloviki. For such a small market, why bother? There is an irony here. Russia’s regime has opted for the East; but Chinese people and investors are interested in Russia only to the extent that it is Western. Investors want rule of law, not cronyism. Tourists want St Petersburg, not Tuva.

From the same issue, we learn that America is not just a big bully, it’s also a hypocrite:

America, however, did not join the CRS. Instead it shares information on the foreign clients of American banks under FATCA’s reciprocal provisions. But sharing is patchy; a lot of countries get nothing. Combine that with the high level of anonymity offered by American shell companies, and it is hardly surprising that America has become the destination of choice for many tax evaders. One tax expert reckons that “over 90% of assets avoiding the CRS have been herded into the USA”.

America does not have to worry about the sort of bludgeoning that it doled out to Switzerland—no other country has anything like the same extra-territorial financial power.

Also from the same issue, evidence that something mysterious happened in the mid-2010s.  The entire world, including the US, China, India, Europe and many other places, suddenly became more bigoted against Muslims.  Why?

NAHEED NENSHI, Calgary’s ebullient mayor, says that when he was elected in 2010—becoming the first Muslim to lead a large North American city—only the foreign media brought up his religion. The local press never mentioned it. That changed when he ran for re-election for a third term in 2017. People “suddenly started talking about race and religion”, sometimes abusively, online. Although his rivals avoided bigotry, it encouraged formerly non-voting racists to turn up at the polls. He still won. Four years ago, when Justin Trudeau was elected, “Canada was bucking the trend,” says Mr Nenshi. Now it is learning that “we’re not immune at all” to the political maladies of the age.

In the early 1920s, Herbert Hoover led a relief effort in China Russia that assisted millions of starving peasants.  One of the great evils of nationalism is the denial of historical truth:

In the Volga region, where residents were driven by hunger to boil and eat human flesh, the ARA organised kitchens and transport, distributed food and rebuilt hospitals. . . . “The help given by the Americans can never be forgotten, and the story of their glorious exploit will be told by grandfathers to their grandchildren,” grateful Russians told them.

Yet the duplicity and paranoia of the Soviet government haunted the ARA’s operation to the very end. While publicly Bolshevik leaders showered the Americans with praise and thanks, the secret police instructed local officials: “Under no circumstances are there to be any large displays or expressions of gratitude made in the name of the people.” No sooner was the Russian job done than the authorities began to expunge all memory of America’s help.

The edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1950 described the ARA as a front “for spying and wrecking activities and for supporting counter-revolutionary elements”. Modern Russian textbooks barely mention the episode.

I also doubt that American textbooks mention the episode.

Some people claim that the Chinese people like the draconian security measures being imposed, as they reduce crime.  It’s not that simple, as this story from Xinjiang demonstrates:

Six local Han Chinese businesspeople working in real estate, agriculture, services and retail estimated that the city population had halved from between 500,000-600,000 to about 200,000-300,000 over the past two years.

In the city centre, rows of shops were shuttered. Farther out, many low-rise houses — usually rented by migrant workers — had been demolished. . . . 

Another small business owner said people left Korla because of the inconvenience of the security. “It’s not that living here isn’t ‘stable’,” he said, using the Chinese authorities’ term for their mission in Xinjiang — to “stabilise” the region. “It’s the pressure of daily life. When you go into a shopping centre you have to scan your face, scan your ID, scan your bag, store your bag in a locker. You have to hand over ID just to buy something,” he said.

China had the goal of bring lots of Han people to Xinjiang.  Now they are leaving.

Back when I was teaching economics, India students used to tell me that while Modi was an anti-Muslim bigot, at least he was good for business.  Actually, nationalists are rarely good for business:

“There is no demand and no private investment,” groused Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Auto, a motorcycle-maker, at its annual meeting in late July. “So where will growth come from?” The remark, widely interpreted as a swipe at Mr Modi, encapsulates Indian business’s disenchantment with the man they once regarded as their champion.

The immediate cause of the mood swing was the budget, presented on July 5th by Nirmala Sitharaman, the newly appointed finance minister. Business folk tuned in to the two-hour presentation expecting less red tape, fewer tariffs, more incentives for investment and lower taxes. They got the opposite.

At an international bank, analysts’ feigned interest turned to mild bewilderment, then despair, as Ms Sitharaman recited the budget’s 143 provisions. The top marginal tax rate for high-earners would increase from 35.9%, already above the level in most emerging economies, to 42.7%, roughly as much as the average in the OECD club of mostly rich countries. The corporate-tax rate for big companies stayed at 35% (compared with a global average of 23%, and 21% in America). Or at least it appeared to: a new levy of 20% on share buy-backs, on top of existing charges, would bring the capital-gains rate above 40%, among the highest in the world. Add in a tax on dividends and a recently imposed charge on recipients and, all told, the government could skim off 60% of corporate profits. New tariffs would be slapped on products from cashews to newsprint to fibre-optic cables.

I frequent do “not from The Onion” posts, which for some strange reason have become much more common in recent years. Maybe it’s time to do “not from the People’s Daily” posts.

In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its plan to require migrants list their social media accounts on immigration forms. The goal is to monitor and keep record of their social media activity. Although the monitoring isn’t supposed to apply to naturalized citizens, the information collected could influence the success of their applications for citizenship: conversations and comments made on social media may be scrutinized and interpreted to find reasons to deny the application.

The bad news:  Every day the US seems to become more like China.

The even worse news:  China’s a moving target, as it’s becoming ever more repressive.

The life expectancy gap between blacks and whites is falling rapidly, especially for women:

Miami is building air conditioned bus stops.  No, this is not a joke:

In America, even many prisons now have air conditioning. (I grew up without it.) Still think that living standards in America are declining?



26 Responses to “Recent articles”

  1. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    22. December 2019 at 11:28


    Good post, but what stands out to me about the bus stops is how wasteful having public buses is in a city like Miami. In terms of cost/ride, it’s often cheaper to just subsidize Lyft and Uber rides, and which seems more pleasant?

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. December 2019 at 12:55

    Mike, That sounds plausible to me.

  3. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    22. December 2019 at 15:16

    On the issue of attitudes to Muslims, I would distinguish between changes in opinion and changes in willingness to express opinions. There may be some of the latter happening, but the survey evidence makes me sceptical there is much change in the former.

    I am currently reading the scholarly literature on the rise of populism in Europe, which started in the 1980s. It is clear that the populists score, particularly the national populists, the more there are concerns that the political and cultural mainstream will not usefully address.

    The tacking a bit to the left economically in order to pick up socially conservative workers that Boris Johnson did so spectacularly looks increasingly like a winning strategy. Especially as British Labour has now joined the other social democratic parties in seriously haemorrhaging working class votes.

    In the US, it is remarkable how political polarisation, income inequality and the foreign share of the US population all march up and down and up together.

    (If the Republicans ever find a way to appeal to African-American voters, the Democratic presumption that they can ride migrant votes to political dominance will collapse very quickly. The bloc voting by African-Americans is the only reason the Democratic strategy looks plausible.)

  4. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    22. December 2019 at 15:23

    BTW, it is clear from the survey literature and voting that a substantial number of people will willingly pay an economic cost to minimise the cultural displacement/dislocation effects of migration. Especially those in localities which have experienced rapid ethnic change or are adjacent to such localities.

    It was true in the US in the late C19th and early C20th and it is true now. Banging on about how great migration is for the economy does not persuade, it just looks like one is not listening. Because, of course, typically those who are so one-note about migration are not listening. Often, they don’t even have a frame of reference where such cultural dislocation/displacement concerns make any sense (except as manifestation of various “boo” words).

  5. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    22. December 2019 at 16:26

    Re India: I do not understand Modi. About 15% of the Indian population is Muslim. Of course discrimination and aggravating hostilities would be bad if Muslims were 1% of the population. But even speaking in a calculating manner, this seems like a bad idea by Modi.

    On US living standards. Well, the average age of a home buyer today is 47 vs 31 in 1981. The average age of an automobile on the road is 12 years. Americans are no longer reproducing, have below replacement birth rates. A one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles rents for $2,500, average. By most measures, wages really have not budged in 40 years. Even after adjusting for Capital consumption, labor share of income has been dropping for decades. Tyler Cowen says young males make less in real wages today than in the 1960s.

    We have Detroitified the heartland, and now we are HongKongifying defying the coasts.

    The next president will be Trump, if it is not Warren, if it is not Sanders. The Last Hope Of The Establishment is… Joe Biden?

  6. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    22. December 2019 at 16:37

    Lorenzo, that article is missing a big part of history, namely the Civil Rights Movement, which caused both increased polarization (as racist Democrats moved to the Republican Party) and increased immigration (as removing racist immigration laws was one of the objectives of the Civil Rights Movement). Polarization was low before the Civil Rights Movement because many southerners were Democrats for historical reasons even though they had little in common ideologically with the Democratic mainstream. And people who prefer homogenous communities have plenty of homogenous communities in the US where they can live—immigrants are concentrated in a few cities—there’s no reason they should also be allowed to prohibit diverse communities from existing.

  7. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    22. December 2019 at 16:44

    Regarding US living standards—-

    What orthodox macroeconomists in the developed world need to ask themselves is this: are income gains as measured in fact extracted back from the population through economic rents?

    Mercatus scholar Kevin Erdmann says this more or less happens along the West Coast, Boston, New York and perhaps Austin. As measured, populations in those areas have rising per capita income, but increasing fractions of that income are extracted through economic rents on artificially tight property markets.

    Does anybody imagine that people in Hong Kong, where a one bedroom apartment rents for $3,000 to $4,000 a month, have higher living standards than people in Sapporo, Japan where a one bedroom apartment rents for $450?

    Macroeconomists say that people in Hong Kong have higher incomes than people in Sapporo Japan.

  8. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    22. December 2019 at 18:10


    Unlike some of your other recent posts, I agree with most of what you say….except

    1. You need to distinguish between China (the CCP) and Chinese people.

    2. Anonymity and tax evasion are two different things. You should do a post on FATCA and CRS.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. December 2019 at 19:35

    Lorenzo, You said:

    “Because, of course, typically those who are so one-note about migration are not listening.”

    Do you know anyone who has done more “listening” than Bryan Caplan?

    dtoh, I am very aware of the difference between the CCP and the people. I’ve done many posts on FATCA, all critical of the law. (Most at Econlog)

  10. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    22. December 2019 at 22:12

    Benjamin Cole, while it is true Tyler Cowen has expressed disappointment about income growth in some measures (you mention young males, other people mention median earners), in a recent podcast he said if you ask people if they’d rather earn and spend 55K USD today or 55K a few decades ago and most would prefer the current day. Keep in mind if you spent 55K USD in 1950 you’d be living like Queen Elizabeth. May be I’m exaggerating. Then Tyler Cowen said this implies deflation, which we know was not the case. This is clearly an argument against measured stagnation.

    When I was in university the first time, nobody drank bottled water. Nobody I knew flew to warm places for spring break. I’d rather have a 15 year old car in 2019 than a new car in 1973. My impression is that there’s something misleading about the median income stagnation measures.

  11. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. December 2019 at 00:28

    Brian, thanks for your comment.

    Two generations ago, average people could move to California, buy a home, raise kids and could reasonably believe their kids could also be successful in the local economy, with diligence.
    That thought is laughable today.

    There is no debating the technological improvements of the last 60 years.

    There is also no debating that the minimum wage is lower today than it was in the 1960s.

    Michael Pettis says that industrial production moves to nations that reduce labor share of income. In addition, the United States has absorbed tens of millions illegal immigrants who are desperate for work.

    If globalism works for the employee class, why are employee classes globally turning against globalism?

    Perhaps they are Justified.

  12. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. December 2019 at 02:44

    Speaking of articles, or financial media and macroeconomics.

    Trump’s tariffs, it has been suggested, would tip the global economy into a recession, just like Smoot-Hawley.

    Indeed, in May, more than 1,100 economists signed an open letter to Trump. The letter said in part—-

    “In 1930, 1,028 economists urged Congress to reject the protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act….Congress did not take economists’ advice in 1930, and Americans across the country paid the price.”


    Gee, tariffs equal a global Great Depression?

    So, today I read this:

    “The bullish tenor in global equity markets, which has helped lift U.S. stocks to a string of record highs over the past three months, looks set to continue Monday with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating a 45 point gain and those linked to the S&P 500, which has gained 28.5% so far this year and recorded 32 all-time highs….”

    The S&P 500 is up 28.5% year-to-date?

    Scott Sumner is a proponent of reading the stock market for macroeconomic clues.

    I will put on my tin-foil hat and try to divine what this all means. I am pointing my antennae towards Pluto. Stay tuned and Heavens to Murgatroy!

  13. Gravatar of rayward rayward
    23. December 2019 at 05:15

    Cowen has an interesting post at Bloomberg (that he links at his blog): while China’s economy may be as large as the U.S. economy, U.S. wealth is much higher than China’s wealth. What does that mean? My reaction is that in developing countries income produces wealth whereas in developed countries wealth produces wealth. Thus, China continues to invest heavily in productive capital (including infrastructure) to generate more income while the U.S. doesn’t; in the U.S. the preferred investment is in assets with rising prices such as stocks, such investment producing further rising stock prices. My question: what is “wealth”? Is a Picasso painting wealth even though the painting can’t generate income (aside from a rising price)? Sumner being an expert on the great depression and its causes, I would point out that the financial crisis that triggered the depression caused vast sums of wealth to vanish, wealth that took decades to recover. Was it actually wealth if it could vanish so quickly?

  14. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    23. December 2019 at 05:39

    Ben, higher home prices in some areas frequently reflect higher demand to live in those areas because they are most desirable. California is more expensive relative to the rest of the US today because it is also more desirable to live in relative to the rest of the US today (such as in terms of economy or cultural diversity). The rest of the US generally has affordable housing. The high cost of housing in the most desirable parts of California when housing prices in the rest of the US are affordable and people are free to move there is not necessarily a problem any more than the high cost of Maseratis when there are still plenty of more affordable car brands to buy.

    Here’s a micro-scale analogy: In my county, the average home price is around $150,000 and around 5% of the population is foreign-born. However, there are two neighborhoods that have around 25% foreign-born population. These neighborhoods are where most people want to live because of the greater cultural diversity, and therefore the median home price in these neighborhoods is three times the county average. However, no one thinks this is a problem because there are plenty of other places in the county to live. Moreover, kicking out the foreign-born residents might reduce the housing value in those neighborhoods, but only because it would destroy a big part of the value of those neighborhoods in the first place. Those cheaper housing prices would not be an improvement in anyone’s actual standard of living. The high cost of living in San Francisco should really be treated as just a larger version of the high cost of living in those two particular neighborhoods.

  15. Gravatar of Cameron Blank Cameron Blank
    23. December 2019 at 10:09

    Ben Cole,

    It’s true housing, healthcare, and college tuition are an absolute disaster. These issues also have absolutely nothing to do with globalism, and anti-globalist leaders like Trump and Sanders are hopeless to do anything about them.

    Voters are unfortunately too uninformed and are not incentivized to understand and properly address these issues, so they blame the “establishment” despite the unpopularity of real solutions. This can easily lead to a downward spiral into worse policies and outcomes which will also undoubtedly be blamed on the “establishment”.

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. December 2019 at 10:18

    Ben’s view:

    Nobody lives in California anymore, it’s too crowded.

    Actually, millions of working class Hispanics are doing just fine, many of them in Orange County.

  17. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    23. December 2019 at 11:46

    I’ll take free will over a teleological view of history. That said, it sucks we are violating so many principles that have made our country such a great place to live including respect for the rule of law, religious and political tolerance and striving for equality of opportunity.

  18. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    23. December 2019 at 12:28

    Ben, there are plenty of affordable places in California. Have you checked into Trona?

    That’s near my home town of Rigdecrest. Lots of work there for scientists and engineers.

    Also, based on personal observation, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are lots of Hispanics doing well here in Santa Barbara county as well, and we certainly have elevated property values.

  19. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    23. December 2019 at 15:14

    Mark: Strangely, the authors are competent political scientists and have considered civil rights. Political polarisation was actually stronger outside the South. The movement of Southern whites to the Republicans mildly slowed down political polarisation (that is, polarisation was slightly slower in the South due to some lag effects).

    The authors spend a considerable amount of effort showing that Civil Rights did not drive polarisation. What it did do is take some cross cutting divisions off the political agenda. That is, it removed countervailing pressures to allow underlying political polarisation to come to the fore. I realise that the “Southern Strategy = evil Republicans” is a much beloved trope (at times, Vox seems to live off it) but it “explains” much less than people think. (Also, the Republicans typically get no credit for changing the language of Southern politics.)

    Scott: Bryan Caplan is a very bright, very worthy guy, but he “listens” within a frame that really doesn’t allow him to “see” certain phenomena. Besides, I think there are some serious weak points in the economic literature on migration. Moreover, I was referring more to the general discourse, particularly in Europe and on the “cosmopolitan” side of politics.

    2016 was the most “Latin American” Presidential election in US history — narcissistic demagogue versus wife of former President. Folk bring their cultures with them, so some US convergence with Latin America is hardly surprising, given the scale of migration flows. The “gentry liberal” social mercantilism of California is, leaving aside the justifying gloss, increasingly convergent with Latin American governance, for example. (Lots of rules, regulations and licensing which buttress elite networks and tend to hollow out the middle class.)

    There are more Trumps in the US’s future, because the more a society is dominated by ethnic blocks, the more “tribal” identity motivates voting. So the more you get tribal allegiance trumping things like probity and policy. The Donald is the “white” equivalent of having Marion Barry or Coleman Young in the White House, or the non-Catholic equivalent of James Michael Curley in the White House.

    Contemplate that pattern, and tell me again how much Bryan Caplan et al are successfully “listening”.

  20. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    23. December 2019 at 16:39

    Benjamin Cole,

    This “kid must be able to afford to live in the same area as the parent” definition of a flat or rising standard of living seems to be an important cause of your pessimism.

    A kid can’t buy Amazon for $5 per share whereas may be the parent did.

    The foresight or skill or inertia or luck of the parent can’t be used to prove the poverty of the child.

  21. Gravatar of lysseas lysseas
    24. December 2019 at 02:19

    Regarding the “something mysterious happened in the mid-2010s”, I would think that ISIS is the obvious answer. Even its very name “islamic state”, I am afraid has done such a big damage that it has survived the “state” itself.

  22. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. December 2019 at 05:39

    Well, I don’t know if anyone is reading anymore but I think housing costs are far more important to living standards and voting patterns in the United States than Trump’s tariffs.

    Regions with high housing costs in the United States seem inevitably to turn to the left and to socialism. New York, Boston, the West Coast, even Austin Texas.

    A better solution would be the abolition of property zoning, but that is a non-pc suggestion no matter where in the political spectrum you are.

    In 2020 your choices for president will be Trump, Warren, Sanders, and possibly Joe Biden. I fully expect to see AOC in the White House someday.

    Happy holidays everyone!

  23. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. December 2019 at 05:55

    Average apartment rents hit $2,004 a month in Orange County, $1,907 in L.A. County, CoStar reports
    Los Angeles and Orange counties had the 10th and 11th highest apartment rents among 82 U.S. metro areas tracked, according to one report, while Inland Empire rents ranked 26th highest.

    By JEFF COLLINS | | Orange County Register
    PUBLISHED: May 31, 2019 at 1:53 pm | UPDATED: August 29, 2019 at 1:31 pm
    Average asking rents for apartments hit $2,004 a month in Orange County this year and $1,907 a month in Los Angeles County after rising steadily in the region for more than eight years, one of three recent rent reports show.

    Orange County rents were up 2.3 percent from a year earlier during the first quarter of 2019, according to commercial market tracker CoStar. Los Angeles County’s asking rent rose 2.8%.


    I think I am on firm ground when I say that housing costs are eviscerating middle-class living standards in California, including Orange County.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. December 2019 at 14:20

    Lorenzo, You said:

    “Bryan Caplan is a very bright, very worthy guy, but he “listens” within a frame that really doesn’t allow him to “see” certain phenomena.”

    Not sure what that means.

    lysseas, Yes, ISIS is one possibility.

    Ben: “No one lives there anymore, the rents are too high.”

  25. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. December 2019 at 02:45

    Ben: “No one lives there anymore, the rents are too high.”—Scott Sumber

    Not to belabor a point, but job markets are still urbanizing, but housing markets are frozen.

    The vast majority of people who earn or make money (non-pensioners) are employees or small business people. They go where the jobs and people are, and job growth in last 10 years has been in the same cities where housing supply is frozen.

    In one previous period of US history, economies of scale resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of family or small farms in which people could make a living. Yes, many of those people “chose” not to keep farming, but in many cases it simply was not a living anymore. They sold out, or were foreclosed off of their land.

    People need to have jobs. They go where the jobs are.

    Hong Kong is crowded too. But I do not recommend the Hong Kong housing model for any city. In Hong Kong, as in Sydney, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, Spain, large swaths of the US there are huge economic rents being paid to property owners and financiers.

    Kevin Erdmann says along the West Coast, all income gains and more are lost into housing costs.

    According to RentCafe, a one bedroom apartment in Dallas rents for $1,400 or so. And about $2,500 in L.A .

    That’s $1,000 per month, ballpark it.

    US macroeconomists went into shriek-y hysterics when Trump slapped tariffs on washer machines from China. Why, they cost another $100! TEOTWAWKI
    For the guy in L.A., $100 covers the rent for a day and a few hours.

    I think the US and global housing story is about 100 times as important as Trump’s tariffs.

  26. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    25. December 2019 at 11:37

    Ben Cole, that is why I oppose Yang’s UBI because any extra money young people get goes to landlords in hip cities. So Senator Rubio has the better idea of getting parents of small children more money because they tend to spend it more responsibly than young Americans without children. We should have Baby Bonds but they should be untouched until retirement because that is when compound interest would deliver the most benefits. Plus knowing you have SS plus your Baby Bond account would lead to more disposable income during middle age because retirement savings wouldn’t be a priority.

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