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Living Arrangements and Standards of Elderly Men and Women

Living Arrangements and Standards of Elderly Men and Women

Chapter:
(p.19) Chapter Two Living Arrangements and Standards of Elderly Men and Women
Source:
The Gender Impact of Social Security Reform
Author(s):
Estelle JamesAlejandra Cox EdwardsRebeca Wong
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226392028.003.0003

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

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