The Poverty of Widows: Future Prospects
NBER Working Paper No. 2326
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.
Published: The Wealth and Poverty of Widows: Assets Before and After the Husband's Death, Michael D. Hurd, David A. Wise, in The Economics of Aging (1989), University of Chicago Press