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Identifying the Poorest Older Americans

Author

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

Abstract

Objectives: Public policies generally target a subset of the population defined as poor or needy, but rarely are people poor or needy in the same way. This is particularly true among older adults, as they have fewer options to compensate for financial decisions made earlier in life. This study investigates poverty among this group in order to identify who among them is financially worst off. Methods: We use 20 years of data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to examine the income and consumption of older Americans. Results: The poverty rate is cut in fourth if both income and consumption are used to define poverty. Those most likely to be poor using a combined measure over both income and consumption are women, widows, blacks, and renters. The income poor alone display sufficient assets to raise consumption above poverty thresholds, while the consumption poor are shown to have income just above the poverty threshold and have few assets. Discussion: The poorest among the older population are those who are income and consumption poor. Understanding the nature of this double poverty population is important in measuring the success of future public policies to reduce poverty among this group.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan D. Fisher & David S. Johnson & Joseph T. Marchand & Timothy M. Smeeding & Barbara B. Torrey, 2009. "Identifying the Poorest Older Americans," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(6), pages 758-766.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:geronb:v:64b:y:2009:i:6:p:758-766
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/geronb/gbp022
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Brandolini & Silvia Magri & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Asset-based measurement of poverty," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 267-284.
    2. 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.
    3. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2012. "Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 111-136, Summer.
    4. Marchand, J. & Smeeding, T., 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
      • Marchand, Joseph & Smeeding, Timothy, 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Working Papers 2016-11, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 20 Nov 2016.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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