Advertisement

Income Inequality in Later Life

  • Melissa Hardy
Part of the International Handbooks of Population book series (IHOP, volume 1)

Inequality is one aspect of diversity. Differences among individuals, groups, organizations, or nations can be constitutive of a rich variety in talents, interests, expertise, or culture. But, when people face differences in opportunities, resources, rights, political access, life expectancy, or standard of living, for example, we speak in terms of inequality rather than diversity. This distinction in terminology signals the special meaning we assign to the distribution of hierarchically valued goods. However, this sorting process – the distinctions made between what we value and what we respond to with indifference – depends on context. Being able to read sets one apart from those who cannot read and being able to read well – better than many of those who can read – can be an asset when one lives in a world where the skill of reading provides access to people, positions and opportunities favorably located relative to the processes of production and distribution. Similarly, countries with high literacy rates are often viewed as more “developed” than countries with low literacy rates. But these rankings correspond to a global environment that values reading as an essential skill, one which commands higher levels of compensation and rewards a highly literate population with a relatively high standard-of-living made possible by a highly productive national economy. Whereas, the term diversity suggests a non-uniform distribution of something, inequality suggests a non-uniform distribution of something that matters either in a positive way, where access to or amount of that something provides advantage, or in a negative way, where exposure to or accumulation provides a disadvantage.

Keywords

Social Security Income Inequality Gini Coefficient Income Quintile Home Equity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alesina A, Glaeser E (2004) Fighting poverty in the US and Europe: A world of difference. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burkhauser RV (1990) How public policy increases the vulnerability of older widows. J Aging Soc Policy 2(3/4):117–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burkhauser RV, Giles P, Lillard DR, Schwarze J (2005) After death do us part: An analysis of the economic well-being of widows in four countries. J Gerontol 60B(5):238–246Google Scholar
  4. Charles, KK, Hurst E (2002) The correlation of wealth across generations. Working Paper 9314. National Bureau of Economic Research: Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  5. Copeland C (2005) Employment-based retirement plan participation: Geographic differences and trends, 2004. Employee Benefits Research Institute Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  6. Corak, M (ed) (2004) Generational income mobility in North America and Europe. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Coulter PB (1989) Measuring inequality: A methodological handbook. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  8. Crystal S, Shea D (1990a) The economic well-being of the elderly. Rev Income Wealth 36:227–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crystal S, Shea D (1990b) Cumulative advantage, cumulative disadvantage, and inequality among elderly people. Gerontologist 30:437–443Google Scholar
  10. DeNavas-Walt C, Proctor BD, Smith J (2007) Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2006. Curr Popul Rep (August):P60–233Google Scholar
  11. Duncan GJ, Daly MC, McDonough P, Williams DR (2002) Optimal indicators of socioeconomic status for health research. Am J Public Health 92(7):1151–1157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. EBRI (2007) Data book on employee benefits. http://www.ebri.org/publications/books/index.cfm?fa=databook
  13. Feinstein JS (1993) The relationship between socioeconomic status and health: A review the literature. Milbank Q 71:279–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gale Wg, Scholz JK (1994) Intergenerational transfers and the accumulation of wealth. J Econ Perspect 8(4):145–160Google Scholar
  15. Gottschalk P, Gustafsson B, Palmer E (ed) (1997) The changing distribution of economic well-being - international perspectives. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Hardy M, Hazelrigg L (1993) The gender of poverty in an aging population. Res Aging 15(3):243–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hardy M, Hazelrigg L (2007) Pension puzzles: Social security and the great debate. Russell Sage Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Hausman DM, McPherson MS (2006) Economic analysis, moral philosophy, and public policy, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Henretta J, Campbell R (1976) Status attainment and status maintenance: A study of stratification in old age. Am Sociol Rev 41:981–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hurd MD, Smith JP (2002) Expected bequests and their distribution. NBER Working Paper 9142Google Scholar
  21. Jäntti M, Bratsberg B, Røed K, Raaum O, Naylor R, Österbacka E (2006) American exceptionalism in a new light: A comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United. IZA Discussion Papers 1938, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)Google Scholar
  22. Juster FT, Smith JP, Stafford F (1999) The measurement and structure of household wealth. Labour Econ 6(2):253–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Levy, F, Temin P (2007) Inequality and institutions in 20th century America. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 13106Google Scholar
  24. Levy F (1998) The new dollars and dreams: American incomes and economic change. Russell Sage Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Lum T (2004) Health-wealth association among older Americans: Racial and ethnic differences. Soc Work Res 28(2):105–116Google Scholar
  26. Munnell AH, Sundén A (2004) Coming up short: The challenge of 401(k)Plans. Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  27. O’Rand A (2003) Cumulative advantage and gerontological theory. In: Crystal S Shea D (eds) Economic outcomes in later life: Public policy, health and cumulative advantage, 2002 volume of the Annu Rev Gerontol Geriatr Springer Publishing, New York, pp 14–30Google Scholar
  28. O’Rand AM, Henretta JC. (1999) Age and inequality: Diverse pathways through later life. Westview Press, Boulder, COGoogle Scholar
  29. Pampel F, Hardy M (1994) Changes in income inequality during old age. Res Soc Stratific Mobil 13:239–263Google Scholar
  30. Pampel F, Hardy M (1993) Status maintenance and change during old age. Soc Forces 73:999–1025Google Scholar
  31. Piketty T, Saez E (2003) Income inequality in the United States. Q J Econ 118(1):1–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Prus S, Brown R (2006) Income inequality over the later-life course: A comparative analysis of seven OECD countries. Luxembourg Income Study Working Paper Series, no. 435Google Scholar
  33. Robert S, House JS (1996) SES differential in health by age and alternative indicators of SES. J Aging Health 8(3):359–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rodriguez SB, Diaz-Gimenez J, Quadrini V, Rios-Rull J-V (2002) Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income and wealth. Fed Res Bank Minneapolis Q Rev 26(3):2–35Google Scholar
  35. Rubin RM, White-Means S, Daniel LM (2000) Income distribution of older Americans. Mon Labor Rev (Nov):19–30Google Scholar
  36. Slesnick DT (1992) Aggregate consumption and savings in the postwar United States. Rev Econ Stat 74(November):585–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Slesnick DT (1993) Gaining ground: Poverty in the postwar United States. J Political Econ 101 (February):1–38Google Scholar
  38. Smeeding TM (1997) Reshuffling responsibilities in old age: The United States in comparative perspective. Working Paper no. 153. Luxembourg Income Study. Syracuse NY: Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public AffairsGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith JP (1997) Wealth inequality among older Americans. J Gerontol, Series B, 52B(Special Issue):74–81Google Scholar
  40. Smith JP (1998) Socioeconomic status and health. Am Econ Rev 88:192–196Google Scholar
  41. Social Security Administration (2008) Fact sheet: 2008 social security changes. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  42. Social Security Administration (2006) Income of the population 55 and older, 2004. SSA Publication No. 13-11871. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  43. Solon, G (2002) Cross country differences in intergenerational earnings mobility. J Econ Perspect 16(3):59–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. US Census Bureau (2006) PINC-08. Source of Income in 2005: People 15 years old and over, by income of specified type in 2005, age, race, Hispanic origin, and sex. http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new08_001.htm
  45. US Census Bureau. (2007) 2007 Annual social and economic supplement. Current Population SurveyGoogle Scholar
  46. Venti SF, Wise DA (2001) Aging and housing equity: Another look. (NBER Working Paper No. W8608). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=291283
  47. Weinberg DH (1996) A brief look at postwar U.S. income inequality. Curr Popul Rep P60–191 (June)Google Scholar
  48. Wenzlow A, Mullahy J, Robert S, Wolfe B (2004) An empirical investigation of the relationship between wealth and health using the survey of consumer finances. Institute for Research on Poverty, Discussion Paper 1287–1304Google Scholar
  49. Williams, DR, Collins C (1995) US socioeconomic and racial differences in health. Annu Rev Sociol 21:349–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Willson AE, Hardy MA (2002) Racial disparities in income security for a cohort of aging American women. Soc Forces 80(4):1283–1306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolff EN (1995) Top heavy: A study of the increasing inequality of wealth in America. Twentieth Century Fund Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Hardy
    • 1
  1. 1.Gerontology CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations