Economic Status of the Elderly in the United States

The title says it all in a newly released report from the National Academy of Social Insurance, Economic Status of Elderly Americans.

The report offers a look at the economic status of elderly Americans, comparing current median standards against younger generations. They find elderly people saw sharp gains in their incomes during the 1960s and 1970s, but now are just as likely as children to be poor.

The report also examines the particular roles of retirement assets — such as Social Security, pensions, earnings, and asset income — in supporting older Americans today. They find that at 44%, Social Security is the largest retirement asset, while home equity is the second-largest at 20%. The report emphasizes that with the collapse of the housing bubble, subsequent stock market meltdown, and aging workforce, Social Security is more important than ever. The authors recommend small changes in revenues and benefits, which could securely pay for Social Security while improving benefit adequacy for vulnerable elders.

The report goes on to examine prospects for the economic well-being of retirees in the future, drawing on a retirement risk index developed by the Retirement Research Center at Boston College and official projections of Social Security’s long-term future. The paper concludes by comparing the United States with other industrialized nations in terms of the economic well-being of our older citizens and our prospects for meeting the fiscal challenge of an aging society.

Read the full report: Economic Status of Elderly Americans

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