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J Gerontol. 1988 Jan;43(1):S22-7.

Poverty and living arrangements among older women: are changes in economic well-being underestimated?

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  • 1Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Poverty rates have fallen more slowly over the last three decades among older women living alone than for other groups of elderly persons. The simultaneous increase in the percentage of elderly women living alone has given rise to speculation that these two phenomena are related. Using 1950 and 1980 Census data this relationship was explored. Over the 30-year period, poverty among elderly women fell by 35.9 percentage points. It would have fallen further if women had not changed the types of households in which they lived, but by only an additional 3 percentage points. The effect of changes in household composition, however, was greatest for the oldest of the elderly individuals.

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