IESOP: Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population

Abstract of Research Paper No. 22
The Independence and Economic Security of Older Women Living Alone
by Rebecca Smith, Lonnie Magee, Leslie Robb, and John Burbidge

We study women aged 51-75 who live alone and are not married over the period 1969-1993 using national samples from The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and The Family Expenditure Survey (FAMEX). We examine Income and Expenditure Patterns over the period and find that: there have been substantial increases in real incomes of these women, particularly during the 1970's.

The principal source of growth was government transfers and especially the growth in CPP incomes. Should governments withdraw this financial support, low incomes could quickly re-emerge. Incomes of those who were previously married and of the older group of these women (ages 60-75) grew more rapidly over the period.

The growth in income has gone almost entirely into consumption. Some of these women are able to save, but like most sub-groups of the Canadian population there is tremendous variability in saving rates among older women.

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Last updated: Dec 16, 1997.