The Changing Economic Circumstances of the Elderly: Income, Wealth and Social Security

TitleThe Changing Economic Circumstances of the Elderly: Income, Wealth and Social Security
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsJames P. Smith
InstitutionSyracuse University
KeywordsHealth Conditions and Status, Income, Net Worth and Assets, Social Security
Abstract

This Policy Brief looks at how the economic status of the elderly is changing and discusses their prospects for the future. While the economic status of the elderly has dramatically improved over the decades and there is evidence of modest wealth holdings by the typical older household, there still exists the reality of economic disparities. Many older Americans remain economically vulnerable and there are large inequalities in wealth. Wide disparities exist across racial and ethnic groups and across age groups, with the oldest households always faring worst, largely due to deaths of spouses. Evidence suggests that while income explains a significant part of the existing wealth disparities, it is not the sole factor. The other contributing factors are the significantly lower savings rates for low- and middle-income households, socioeconomic status and health, bequests motives, and Social Security. The brief ends with a discussion about the power of Social Security as a highly successful redistributive system and the reasons behind its need for reform.

Endnote Keywords

Economic Status/Wealth/Retirement Incomes/Income Inequality/Social Security/Health Status

Endnote ID

8126

Citation Key5344