IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Social Security, Economic Growth, and the Rise in Independence of Elderly Widows in the 20th Century

  • Kathleen McGarry
  • Robert F. Schoeni

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6511.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6511.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Apr 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Demography (2000), forthcoming.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6511
Note: AG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Quadagno, Jill, 1988. "The Transformation of Old Age Security," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226699233, June.
  3. 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.
  4. Schoeni, R-F, 1996. "Does Aid to Families with Dependent Children Displace Familial Assistance?," Papers 96-12, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  5. Robert Moffitt & Robert Reville & Anne Winkler, 1998. "Beyond single mothers: Cohabitation and marriage in the AFDC program," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 259-278, August.
  6. John Beresford & Alice Rivlin, 1966. "Privacy, poverty, and old age," Demography, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 247-258, March.
  7. Jan Mutchier & Jeffrey Burr, 1991. "A longitudinal analysis of household and nonhousehold living arrangements in later life," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 375-390, August.
  8. Hausman, Jerry & McFadden, Daniel, 1984. "Specification Tests for the Multinomial Logit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1219-40, September.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Douglas Wolf & Beth Soldo, 1988. "Household composition choices of older unmarried women," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 387-403, August.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

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 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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.