Cross-National Comparison of Income and Wealth Status in Retirement: First Results from the Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS)
Posted: 8 Mar 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2007
This paper provides a first glance at the role of income and wealth in comparing economic security of older persons in the United States in cross-national perspective. We compare our elders to those in six other rich OECD countries (Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). These countries have diverse social policy systems, with respect to both social insurance and public assistance; and they have very different patterns of private wealth holding. The paper is based on a new source of wealth micro data, known as the Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS).
In this paper, we first develop a comparable definition of wealth and net worth across nations and then focus our efforts on the inter-country variation in the composition of income and asset packages for those 65 and over, with respect to the main sources in each package. We examine the structure of income and wealth holdings and their joint distribution; income and asset poverty of the elderly; the importance of home ownership in providing security for the elderly; differences in wealth by education; and we provide an initial glimpse at wealth and income inequality in a comparative perspective. We conclude by comparing the risks associated with private assets to those associated with under-funded public pension systems.
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