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No Place Like Home: Older Adults and Their Housing

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Author Info

  • Jonathan D. Fisher
  • David S. Johnson
  • Joseph T. Marchand
  • Timothy M. Smeeding
  • Barbara Boyle Torrey

Abstract

Objectives: This paper employs new data on the consumption and assets of older Americans to investigate recent research findings that older adults do not convert their home equity into income that can be used for current consumption, as the life-cycle hypothesis predicts. We use data over twenty years from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to examine the asset and consumption trends of older adults, buttressed with additional findings from the Survey of Consumer Finances and the American Housing Survey. Older American's homeownership rates are stable until age 80 and after 80 tend to decline slowly. The homes are increasingly mortgage-free; home equity increases with age, and few older adults take out home equity loans or reverse annuity mortgages. Housing consumption-flows increase with age; non-housing consumption-flows decline after age 60 at a rate of approximately 1.4% a year. The results suggest that most older Americans are not converting their housing assets into consumption despite the life-cycle hypothesis predictions. This is also inconsistent with international trends where homeownership rates fall substantially with age. One reason may be because older Americans may be holding onto their homes to finance long-term care. If this is the case, their economic behavior may be more consistent with the life-cycle hypothesis than previous research suggests.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Gerontological Society of America in its journal The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

Volume (Year): 62 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: S120-S128

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Handle: RePEc:oup:geronb:v:62:y:2007:i:2:p:s120-s128

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Cited by:
  1. Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M. & Smeeding, Timothy M. & Tsakloglou, Panos, 2010. "Distributional Effects of Imputed Rents in Five European Countries," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 167-179.
  2. Andrea Brandolini & Silvia Magri & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Asset-based measurement of poverty," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 755, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  3. Calvo, Esteban & Haverstick, Kelly & Zhivan, Natalia, 2009. "Older Americans on the Go: Financial and Psychological Effects of Moving," MPRA Paper 48965, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Draw-down of Wealth in Retirement," NBER Working Papers 17536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jonathan Skinner, 2007. "Are You Sure You're Saving Enough for Retirement?," NBER Working Papers 12981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jan Rouwendal, 2009. "Housing Wealth and Household Portfolios in an Ageing Society," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 1-48, March.
  7. Fisher, Jonathan & Marchand, Joseph, 2010. "Does the Retirement Consumption Puzzle Differ Across the Distribution?," Working Papers 2010-20, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 01 Apr 2011.
  8. Kelly Haverstick & Natalia A. Zhivan, 2009. "Older Americans On The Go: How Often, Where, and Why?," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-18, Center for Retirement Research, revised Sep 2009.
  9. Calvo, Esteban & Haverstick, Kelly & Zhivan, Natalia, 2009. "Determinants and Consequences of Moving Decisions for Older Homeowners," MPRA Paper 48964, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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