Social Security, Economic Growth, and the Rise in Independence of Elderly Widows in the 20th Century
The share of elderly widows living alone rose from 18 percent in 1940 to 62 percent in 1990, while the share living with adult children declined from 59 percent to 20 percent. This study analyzes the causes of this change and finds that income growth, in particular increased Social Security benefits, was the single most important factor causing the change in living arrangements accounting for nearly two-thirds of the rise in the share of elderly widows living alone. Changes in benefits from the mean-tested OAA/SSI programs had a lesser impact on the decision to live alone but were a significant factor in explaining changes in the living arrangements of the poorest widows. Furthermore, contrary to recent work, we find no evidence that the effect of income on living arrangements became stronger over the period; income had a substantial positive effect on the propensity to live alone as early as the 1940s and 1950s. Finally, the substantial changes observed in the composition of the population with respect to age, race, immigrant status, schooling, and completed fertility explain a relatively small share of the changes in living arrangements.
|Date of creation:||Apr 1998|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Demography (2000), forthcoming.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
- Lampman, Robert J & Smeeding, Timothy M, 1983. "Interfamily Transfers as Alternatives to Government Transfers to Persons," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 29(1), pages 45-66, March.
- Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
- Jan Mutchier & Jeffrey Burr, 1991. "A longitudinal analysis of household and nonhousehold living arrangements in later life," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 28(3), pages 375-390, August.
- Burkhauser, Richard V & Turner, John A, 1982. "Social Security, Preretirement Labor Supply, and Saving: A Confirmation and a Critique," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 643-46, June.
- Cox, Donald & Jakubson, George, 1995. "The connection between public transfers and private interfamily transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 129-167, May.
- Schoeni, R-F, 1996. "Does Aid to Families with Dependent Children Displace Familial Assistance?," Papers 96-12, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
- John Beresford & Alice Rivlin, 1966. "Privacy, poverty, and old age," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 3(1), pages 247-258, March.
- Costa, Dora L, 1997.
"Displacing the Family: Union Army Pensions and Elderly Living Arrangements,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1269-92, December.
- Dora L. Costa, 1996. "Displacing the Family: Union Army Pensions and Elderly Living Arrange- ments," NBER Working Papers 5429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Douglas Wolf & Beth Soldo, 1988. "Household composition choices of older unmarried women," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(3), pages 387-403, August.
- Dora L. Costa, 1999.
"A House of Her Own: Old Age Assistance and the Living Arrangements of Older Nonmarried Women,"
NBER Working Papers
6217, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Costa, Dora L., 1999. "A house of her own: old age assistance and the living arrangements of older nonmarried women," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 39-59, April.
- Robert Moffitt & Robert Reville & Anne Winkler, 1998. "Beyond single mothers: Cohabitation and marriage in the AFDC program," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(3), pages 259-278, August.
- Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002.
Handbook of Public Economics,
in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324
- Burkhauser, Richard V & Turner, John A, 1978. "A Time-Series Analysis on Social Security and Its Effect on the Market Work of Men at Younger Ages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 701-15, August.
- D. McFadden & J. Hausman, 1981.
"Specification Tests for the Multinominal Logit Model,"
292, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Hausman, Jerry & McFadden, Daniel, 1984. "Specification Tests for the Multinomial Logit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1219-40, September.
- Quadagno, Jill, 1988. "The Transformation of Old Age Security," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226699233.
- Robert Hutchens & George Jakubson & Saul Schwartz, 1989. "AFDC and the Formation of Subfamilies," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 599-628.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6511. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.