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

  • Laurens Cherchye
  • Bram De Rock
  • Frederik Vermeulen

We apply the collective consumption model of Browning, Chiappori and Lewbel (2006) 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 poverty rates by means of the collective consumption model. Collective poverty rates of widows and widowers turn out to be slightly lower than traditional ones based on a standard equivalence scale. Poverty among women (men) in elderly couples, however, seems to be heavily underestimated (overestimated) by the traditional approach. Finally, we analysed the impact of becoming a widow(er). Based on cross-sectional evidence, we find that the drop (increase) in material well-being following the husband’s death is substantial for women in high (low) expenditure couples. For men, the picture is reversed.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën in its series Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers with number ces0807.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0807
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  1. Kathleen McGarry & Robert F. Schoeni, 2005. "Widow(er) Poverty and Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenditures Near the End of Life," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 60(3), pages S160-S168.
  2. M. Browning & P. A. Chiappori, 1998. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1241-1278, November.
  3. P.-A. Chiappori & I. Ekeland, 2009. "The Microeconomics of Efficient Group Behavior: Identification," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 763-799, 05.
  4. Frederic Vermeulen, 2000. "Collective household models: principles and main results," Public Economics Working Paper Series ces0028, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics.
  5. Cherchye, L.J.H. & de Rock, B. & Vermeulen, F.M.P., 2007. "The collective model of household consumption : A nonparametric characterization," Other publications TiSEM 0a104373-4fb6-4ef2-9d2b-2, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  6. François Bourguignon & Martin Browning & Pierre-André Chiappori, 2006. "Efficient Intra-household Allocations and Distribution Factors: Implications and Identification," CAM Working Papers 2006-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  7. Browning, M. & Bourguignon, F. & Chiappori, P.A. & Lechene, V., 1992. "Incomes and Outcomes: A structural Model of Intra-Household Allocation," DELTA Working Papers 92-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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  9. Frederic Vermeulen & Olivier Bargain & Miriam Beblo & Denis Beninger & Richard Blundell & Raquel Carrasco & Maria-Concetta Chiuri & François Laisney & Valérie Lechene & Nicolas Moreau & Michal Myck & , 2006. "Collective Models of Labor Supply with Nonconvex Budget Sets and Nonparticipation: A Calibration Approach," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 113-127, 06.
  10. Laurens Cherchye & Bram De Rock & Frederic Vermeulen, 2009. "Opening the black box of intrahousehold decision making: theory and nonparametric empirical tests of general collective consumption models," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/98561, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Coder, John & Rainwater, Lee & Smeeding, Timothy M, 1989. "Inequality among Children and Elderly in Ten Modern Nations: The United States in an International Context," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 320-24, May.
  12. Arthur Lewbel & Krishna Pendakur, 2008. "Estimation of Collective Household Models With Engel Curves," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 694, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
  14. Arthur Lewbel, 2002. "Calculating Compensation in Cases of Wrongful Death," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 523, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 07 Jun 2002.
  15. Michael Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Economic Well-Being at Older Ages: Income- and Consumption-Based Poverty Measures in the HRS," Working Papers 410, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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