The Poverty of Widows: How Do They Become Poor?

Youngae Lee, Ohio State University
Jinkook Lee, Ohio State University

Population aging has increased rapidly and economic well-being of the elderly has improved considerable over the past several decades. However, living in widowhood is more likely to have vulnerable risk factors for transition into poverty and high rates of poverty among widows remain a primary concern of policies for elderly. The objective of our analysis was to gain potential causes and factors facilitated economic insecurity of widows on the basis of data from Health and Retirement Study. Through decomposing time period among widowed in terms of economic well-being, this article found the effects inducing widow poverty and showed the patterns of being poor. Our result suggests that widow poverty can be linked to wealth loss and labor effects as change of economic consequences in the year immediately proceeding husband’s death. In turn, the change of health status rapidly increases high poverty rate among widows.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Inequality, Labor Force, Education, Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Religion, Policy