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The Independence and Economic Security of Older Women Living Alone


  • Rebecca Smith
  • Lonnie Magee
  • Leslie Robb
  • John Burbidge


We study women aged 51-75 who live alone and are not married over the period 1969-1993 using national samples from The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and The Family Expenditure Survey (FAMEX). We examine Income and Expenditure Patterns over the period and find that: there have been substantial increases in real incomes of these women, particularly during the 1970's. The principal source of growth was government transfers and especially the growth in CPP incomes. Should governments withdraw this financial support, low incomes could quickly re-emerge. Incomes of those who were previously married and of the older group of these women (ages 60-75) grew more rapidly over the period. The growth in income has gone almost entirely into consumption. Some of these women are able to save, but like most sub-groups of the Canadian population there is tremendous variability in saving rates among older women.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca Smith & Lonnie Magee & Leslie Robb & John Burbidge, 1997. "The Independence and Economic Security of Older Women Living Alone," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 22, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:iesopp:22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin D. Dooley, 1994. "Women, Children and Poverty in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 20(4), pages 430-443, December.
    2. Xiaofen Lin, 1997. "Saving Before and After Retirement: A Study of Canadian Couples, 1969-1992," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 13, McMaster University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lynn McDonald & A. Leslie Robb, 2003. "The Economic Legacy of Divorced and Separated Women in Old Age," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 104, McMaster University.

    More about this item


    SCF; FAMEX; income; expenditure; older women;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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