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Economic well-being and poverty among the elderly: An analysis based on a collective consumption model

  • Cherchye, Laurens
  • De Rock, Bram
  • Vermeulen, Frederic

We apply the collective consumption model of Browning et al. (2010) to analyse economic well-being and poverty among the elderly. The model focuses on individual preferences, a consumption technology that captures the economies of scale of living in a couple, and a sharing rule that governs the intra-household allocation of resources. The model is applied to a time series of Dutch consumption expenditure surveys. Our empirical results indicate substantial economies of scale and a wife's share that is increasing in total expenditures. We further calculated two sets of poverty rates: one based on the collective consumption model and one based on the traditional approach with a standard equivalence scale. Poverty among widowers is underestimated by the traditional approach. The same is true for women (men) in elderly couples for the first (later) time periods in our analysis. Finally, we analysed the impact of becoming a widow(er). Based on cross-sectional evidence, we find that the drop in material well-being following the husband's death is rather substantial for women. For men, the picture is reversed.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 56 (2012)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 985-1000

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:6:p:985-1000
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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