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Understanding Expenditure Patterns in Retirement

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  • Barbara A. Butrica
  • Richard W. Johnson
  • Joshua H. Goldwyn

Abstract

Understanding the consumption needs of retirees is critical to assessing the adequacy of retirement income and the possible impact of Social Security reform on the well-being of older Americans. This study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study, including a recent supplemental expenditure survey, to analyze spending patterns and consumption needs for adults ages 65 and older. Results indicate that typical older married adults spend 84 percent of after-tax household income, and nonmarried adults spend 92 percent of after-tax income. Even at older ages individuals devote a larger share of their expenditures and income to housing than any other category of goods and services, including health care. Fully 8 percent of married adults report after-tax incomes that fall short of our estimated basic-needs threshold, consisting of housing, health care, food, and clothing. By comparison, only 3 percent of married adults have incomes below the official poverty level.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara A. Butrica & Richard W. Johnson & Joshua H. Goldwyn, 2005. "Understanding Expenditure Patterns in Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-3, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2005-3
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    File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/understanding-expenditure-patterns-in-retirement/
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    Cited by:

    1. Siwarat Kuson & Songsak Sriboonchitta & Peter Calkins, 2012. "Household determinants of poverty in Savannakhet, Laos: Binary choice model approach," The Empirical Econometrics and Quantitative Economics Letters, Faculty of Economics, Chiang Mai University, vol. 1(3), pages 33-52, September.
    2. Martin Salm, 2006. "Can subjective mortality expectations and stated preferences explain varying consumption and saving behaviors among the elderly?," MEA discussion paper series 06111, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    3. Schmult, Brian, 2012. "Improving Understanding of the Social Security OASDI Trust Fund," MPRA Paper 44227, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 05 Feb 2013.
    4. Barbara A. Butrica & Gordon B.T. Mermin, 2006. "Annuitized Wealth and Consumption at Older Ages," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-26, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2006.
    5. Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Seesaws and Social Security Benefits Indexing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 137-196.
    6. Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Seesaws and Social Security Benefits Indexing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 49(2 (Fall)), pages 137-196.
    7. Matthew Weinzierl, 2014. "Seesaws and Social Security Benefits Indexing," NBER Working Papers 20671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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