Munich Personal RePEc Archive

How Poor are the Old? A Survey of Evidence from 44 Countries

Whitehouse, Edward (2000): How Poor are the Old? A Survey of Evidence from 44 Countries.

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Abstract

This paper surveys 11 international comparative studies of poverty, income distribution and the elderly. Although it focuses on OECD economies, some 44 countries are covered. The paper addresses a series of questions. What level are the incomes of the elderly relative to the population as a whole? How has this changed over the past two decades? How many of the old are poor? How many of the poor are old? Are the oldest old poorer than younger pensioners? How do widows fare? What is the mix between public and private sources of income? Do the elderly poor remain poor? There is also a discussion of methodological issues. The results show that the incomes of the elderly are typically around 80 per cent of incomes of the populations as a whole. In most countries, this ratio has been increasing over the past two decades. Although there remain pockets of poverty among the elderly, most studies show that the old are represented proportionally or under-represented among the poor.

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