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The Evolution of Elderly Poverty in Canada

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  • Kevin Milligan

Abstract

The drop in income poverty among the elderly in Canada over the last generation has been well-documented. In this paper, I extend the calculation of head-count measures of poverty to all currently available microdata, spanning the years 1973 to 2003. I then generate consumption poverty measures spanning 1969 to 2004 and compare to the income poverty results. For both income and consumption, I implement a relative poverty measure that uses the wellbeing of working age families as a benchmark for the elderly. I find that income poverty among the elderly decreases sharply through the 1970s and 1980s by all measures. Since the mid-1990s, relative measures of income poverty have increased substantially, reflecting increasing income among the working age and better- off elderly more than an absolute decrease among lower-income elderly. For consumption, a similar downward trend from the 1970s to the 1990s is evident, although the level of consumption poverty among the elderly is very sensitive to the treatment of housing flows and durables. Since the 1980s, a sharp spike in income poverty has emerged between the ages of 55 and 64. Interestingly, no similar spike is found in the consumption data, which may suggest that many families successfully smooth their consumption over a spell of low-income in this age range.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Milligan, 2007. "The Evolution of Elderly Poverty in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 170, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:170
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin S. Milligan, 2009. "Retirement Income Security and Well-Being in Canada," NBER Working Papers 14667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kevin Milligan, 2005. "Life-cycle asset accumulation and allocation in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 1057-1106, August.
    3. Thomas F. Crossley & Krishna Pendakur, 2002. "Consumption Inequality," Department of Economics Working Papers 2002-09, McMaster University.
    4. Marc Frenette & David A. Green & Kevin Milligan, 2007. "The tale of the tails: Canadian income inequality in the 1980s and 1990s," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(3), pages 734-764, August.
    5. Lars Osberg, 2001. "Poverty Among Senior Citizens: A Canadian Success Story," The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater,in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, pages 151-181 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    6. Thomas F. Crossley & Lori J. Curtis, 2006. "Child Poverty In Canada," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(2), pages 237-260, June.
    7. Agneta Stark & Nancy Folbre & Lois Shaw & Timothy Smeeding & Susanna Sandstrom & Lois Shaw & Sunhwa Lee & Kyunghee Chung, 2005. "Poverty And Income Maintenance In Old Age: A Cross-National View Of Low Income Older Women / Growing Old In The Us: Gender And Income Adequacy / Gender And Aging In South Korea," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 163-197.
    8. Johnson, Paul & Stears, Gary, 1998. "Why Are Older Pensioners Poorer?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(3), pages 271-290, August.
    9. Krishna Pendakur, 2001. "Consumption Poverty in Canada, 1969 to 1998," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 27(2), pages 125-149, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kees Goudswaard & Olaf van Vliet & Jim Been & Koen Caminada, 2012. "Pensions and Income Inequality in Old Age," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(4), pages 21-26, December.
    2. Michael R. Veall, 2007. "Which Canadian Seniors Are Below the Low-Income Measure?," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 186, McMaster University.
    3. Philippe Jacques & Marie-Louise Leroux & Dalibor Stevanovic, 2018. "Poverty Among the Elderly: The Role of Public Pension Systems," Cahiers de recherche 1807, Chaire de recherche Industrielle Alliance sur les enjeux économiques des changements démographiques.
    4. Brewer, Mike & O'Dea, Cormac, 2012. "Measuring living standards with income and consumption: evidence from the UK," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-05, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    5. Bibi, Sami & Duclos, Jean-Yves, 2010. "Y a-t-il plus de pauvreté au Québec qu’au Canada?," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 86(3), pages 277-318, septembre.
    6. Milligan, Kevin, 2013. "Employer-provided pensions, incomes, and hardship in early transitions to retirement," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2013-24, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 29 Apr 2013.
    7. Mike Brewer & Cormac O'Dea, 2012. "Measuring living standards with income and consumption: evidence from the UK," IFS Working Papers W12/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    8. 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.
    9. repec:ces:ifodic:v:10:y:2012:i:4:p:19074538 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. -, 2018. "Promoting equality: An interregional perspective," Documentos de Proyectos 43677, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    11. McDonald, James Ted & Worswick, Christopher, 2013. "Retirement Incomes, Labour Supply and Co-residency Decisions of Older Immigrants in Canada: 1991-2006," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2013-23, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 29 Apr 2013.
    12. Anders, Sven M., 2010. "Ageing And Consumption – The Impact Of Demographic Change On Food Expenditure Patterns," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116442, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    13. Filgueira, Fernando & Manzi, Pilar, 2017. "Pension and income transfers for old age: Inter- and intra-generational distribution in comparative perspective," Políticas Sociales 225, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    14. Milligan, Kevin, 2014. "How is economic hardship avoided by those retiring before the Social Security entitlement age?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(04), pages 420-438, October.
    15. Michael R. Veall, 2008. "Canadian Seniors and the Low Income Measure," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(s1), pages 47-58, November.
    16. Van Vliet, Olaf & Been, Jim & Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2011. "Pension reform and income inequality among the elderly in 15 European countries," MPRA Paper 32940, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    poverty; elderly;

    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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