The Poverty of Widows: Future Prospects
53 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2002 Last revised: 12 May 2021
Date Written: July 1987
I estimate the fraction of widows that will be in poverty by projecting the economic status, as measured in 1979, of a cohort of the elderly. The projections are based on an economic model of consumption behavior. I define and estimate a consumption-based measure of poverty status that, I believe, is more appropriate for the elderly than the usual income-based measure. According to the projections, the fraction of widows in poverty should not increase substantially as the 1979 cohort ages. However, the fraction in poverty depends critically on the definition: the differences between the consumption- and income- based measures are large. But even more important is the valuation put on Medicare/Medicaid: for two reasonable valuations, the fractions in poverty are very different.
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