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Understanding Poverty among the Elderly in India: Implications for Social Pension Policy

  • Pal, Sarmistha

    ()

    (University of Surrey)

  • Palacios, Robert

    ()

    (World Bank)

The Government of India is implementing a new policy which dramatically increases funding for a cash transfer program targeted to the poor elderly. The expansion of this ‘social pension’ in terms of coverage and benefit levels is taking place with little understanding of poverty among India’s elderly or its determinants. This paper finds that households with elderly members do not have higher poverty rates than non-elderly households. This result is robust under various measures that take into account the size and composition of households. Separate evidence suggests that part of the explanation for this phenomenon is that the poor have higher mortality rates and are therefore underrepresented. This explanation has important implications for social pension policy and suggests that programs that reduce elderly mortality may actually increase the relative poverty levels of the elderly.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3431.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Development Studies, 2011, 47 (7), 1017 - 1037
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3431
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  1. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1997. "Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food," Papers 178, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. R. Radhakrishna & K. Hanumantha Rao & C. Ravi & B. Sambi Reddy, 2006. "Estimation and determinants of chronic poverty in India: An Alternative approach," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2006-007, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
  3. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Determinants of Mortality," Working Papers 164, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
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  5. Kochar, Anjini, 1999. "Evaluating Familial Support for the Elderly: The Intrahousehold Allocation of Medical Expenditures in Rural Pakistan," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(3), pages 620-56, April.
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  8. J.V. Meenakshi & Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Impact of Household Size and Family Composition on Poverty in Rural India," ASARC Working Papers 2000-02, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.
  9. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Measuring Poverty among the Elderly," NBER Chapters, in: Inquiries in the Economics of Aging, pages 169-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Willmore, Larry, 2007. "Universal Pensions for Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 24-51, January.
  11. Sarmistha Pal & Robert Palacios, 2005. "Old Age Poverty In The Indian States: What The Household Data Can Say?," Labor and Demography 0505015, EconWPA.
  12. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007. "Aging and Death under a Dollar a Day," NBER Working Papers 13683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Zachary Zimmer & Julia Kwong, 2003. "Family size and support of older adults in urban and rural China: Current effects and future implications," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 23-44, February.
  16. Hills, John, 2004. "Inequality and the State," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199276646, March.
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