IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Household Dissolution and the Choice of Alternative Living Arrangements Among Elderly Americans


  • Axel Borsch-Supan


For the elderly, housing choices are more complex than merely the choice of housing expenditure, dwelling size, and tenure. They also include the choice among alternative living arrangements such as living in one household with their adult children or sharing accommodations with other related or unrelated elderly. We first contrast living arrangements of elderly Americans with the population under age 65 and describe the changes from 1974 to 1983. We detect a growing discrepancy in household formation/dissolution patterns between the elderly and the younger population: after a steady decline in the 1970s, we observe a rapid increase in the rate of "doubled-up" young families in the beginning of the 1980s. No such development can be found among elderly Americans. Instead, the proportion of elderly living in- dependently steadily increases from 1974 to 1983. To explain this discrepancy, we estimate a multinomial choice model among living independently and six categories of alternative living arrangements. The main finding is the predominance of demographic determinants as opposed to economic variables. The difference in income growth between the young and the elderly -- real income declined for the young but increased for the elderly -- can explain only part of the discrepancy in household dissolution decisions. The remaining discrepancy must be attributed to inertia and low mobility rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Axel Borsch-Supan, 1987. "Household Dissolution and the Choice of Alternative Living Arrangements Among Elderly Americans," NBER Working Papers 2338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2338
    Note: AG

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 1986. "Household formation, housing prices, and public policy impacts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 145-164, July.
    2. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Public Policy Implications of Declining Old-Age Mortality," Working papers 378, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    3. Manski, Charles F & Lerman, Steven R, 1977. "The Estimation of Choice Probabilities from Choice Based Samples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(8), pages 1977-1988, November.
    4. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Aydogan Ulker, 2008. "Household structure and consumption insurance of the elderly," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 373-394, April.
    2. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & John N. Morris, 1990. "Why Don't the Elderly Live with Their Children? A New Look," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 149-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2338. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.