The economic status of the elderly

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Science  12 May 1989:
Vol. 244, Issue 4905, pp. 659-664
DOI: 10.1126/science.2655090


Augmented by public programs such as Social Security and Medicare, incomes of the elderly in the United States have grown more rapidly during the last several decades than have the incomes of other groups, so that on average the elderly are at least as well off as the nonelderly. Not all elderly, however, have done as well: widows, in particular, have high poverty rates. The economic prospects of the elderly during the next few decades are good because of the large work force from the baby-boom cohort. In the distant future a large fraction of the population will be elderly, which will probably lead to a deterioration in their economic status. Today, the main problems center on the distribution of economic resources among the elderly and on uncertainties such as costs of medical care.