Living Arrangements and Standards of Elderly Men and Women

Estelle James, Alejandra Cox Edwards and Rebeca Wong

in The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226392004
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226392028 | DOI:
Living Arrangements and Standards of Elderly Men and Women

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This chapter summarizes the living arrangements of older women and men and how the standard of living of the two genders compares in old age. Except in a small number of rich industrial countries, most elderly men and women live with others in a variety of household structures, so their living standards depend on these living arrangements and the income of the other people in the household, as well as their own income. For married women in traditional societies, the income of other family members—first the husband and later the children—is even more important than their own income. If the family support system works well, the formal pension system plays a less important role for these women. But the family system breaks down in the process of urbanization, worker mobility, and economic growth. Moreover, women without an extended family are likely to be disadvantaged financially, especially when they grow old. Mandatory old age programs are, in part, a response to an unreliable family old age system.

Keywords: older men; older women; standard of living; extended family; income; family support system; pensions

Chapter.  5052 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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