Cumulative Advantage, Cumulative Disadvantage, and Evolving Patterns of Late-Life Inequality

Stephen Crystal, Dennis G. Shea, Adriana M. Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose of the Study Earlier studies have identified a pattern of cumulative advantage leading to increased within-cohort economic inequality over the life course, but there is a need to better understand how levels of inequality by age have changed in the evolving economic environment of recent decades. We utilized Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data to compare economic inequality across age groups for 2010 versus 1983-1984. Design and Methods We examined changing age profiles of inequality using a summary measure of economic resources taking into account income, annuitized value of wealth, and household size. We adjusted for survey underreporting of some income and asset types, based on National Income Accounts and other independent estimates of national aggregates. We examined inequality by age with Gini coefficients. Results Late-life (65+) inequality increased between the 2 periods, with Gini coefficients remaining higher than during the working years, but with a less steep age difference in inequality in 2010 than in 1983-1984. Inequality increased sharply within each cohort, particularly steeply in Depression-era, war-baby, and leading-edge baby boom cohorts. The top quintile of elderly received increasing shares of most income sources. Implications Increasing inequality among older people, and especially in cohorts approaching late life, presages upcoming financial challenges for elderly persons in the lower part of the income distribution. Implications of this increasingly high-inequality late-life environment need to be carefully evaluated as changes are considered in Social Security and other safety-net institutions, which moderate impacts of economic forces that drive increasingly disparate late-life economic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-920
Number of pages11
JournalGerontologist
Volume57
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Fingerprint

Economics
Social Security
Population Growth
Age Groups
Depression
Safety
Surveys and Questionnaires

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Cite this

Crystal, Stephen ; Shea, Dennis G. ; Reyes, Adriana M. / Cumulative Advantage, Cumulative Disadvantage, and Evolving Patterns of Late-Life Inequality. In: Gerontologist. 2017 ; Vol. 57, No. 5. pp. 910-920.
@article{e41895f8c07e4ab6948a72adefa75021,
title = "Cumulative Advantage, Cumulative Disadvantage, and Evolving Patterns of Late-Life Inequality",
abstract = "Purpose of the Study Earlier studies have identified a pattern of cumulative advantage leading to increased within-cohort economic inequality over the life course, but there is a need to better understand how levels of inequality by age have changed in the evolving economic environment of recent decades. We utilized Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data to compare economic inequality across age groups for 2010 versus 1983-1984. Design and Methods We examined changing age profiles of inequality using a summary measure of economic resources taking into account income, annuitized value of wealth, and household size. We adjusted for survey underreporting of some income and asset types, based on National Income Accounts and other independent estimates of national aggregates. We examined inequality by age with Gini coefficients. Results Late-life (65+) inequality increased between the 2 periods, with Gini coefficients remaining higher than during the working years, but with a less steep age difference in inequality in 2010 than in 1983-1984. Inequality increased sharply within each cohort, particularly steeply in Depression-era, war-baby, and leading-edge baby boom cohorts. The top quintile of elderly received increasing shares of most income sources. Implications Increasing inequality among older people, and especially in cohorts approaching late life, presages upcoming financial challenges for elderly persons in the lower part of the income distribution. Implications of this increasingly high-inequality late-life environment need to be carefully evaluated as changes are considered in Social Security and other safety-net institutions, which moderate impacts of economic forces that drive increasingly disparate late-life economic outcomes.",
author = "Stephen Crystal and Shea, {Dennis G.} and Reyes, {Adriana M.}",
year = "2017",
month = "10",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1093/geront/gnw056",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "57",
pages = "910--920",
journal = "The Gerontologist",
issn = "0016-9013",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "5",

}

Cumulative Advantage, Cumulative Disadvantage, and Evolving Patterns of Late-Life Inequality. / Crystal, Stephen; Shea, Dennis G.; Reyes, Adriana M.

In: Gerontologist, Vol. 57, No. 5, 01.10.2017, p. 910-920.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Cumulative Advantage, Cumulative Disadvantage, and Evolving Patterns of Late-Life Inequality

AU - Crystal, Stephen

AU - Shea, Dennis G.

AU - Reyes, Adriana M.

PY - 2017/10/1

Y1 - 2017/10/1

N2 - Purpose of the Study Earlier studies have identified a pattern of cumulative advantage leading to increased within-cohort economic inequality over the life course, but there is a need to better understand how levels of inequality by age have changed in the evolving economic environment of recent decades. We utilized Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data to compare economic inequality across age groups for 2010 versus 1983-1984. Design and Methods We examined changing age profiles of inequality using a summary measure of economic resources taking into account income, annuitized value of wealth, and household size. We adjusted for survey underreporting of some income and asset types, based on National Income Accounts and other independent estimates of national aggregates. We examined inequality by age with Gini coefficients. Results Late-life (65+) inequality increased between the 2 periods, with Gini coefficients remaining higher than during the working years, but with a less steep age difference in inequality in 2010 than in 1983-1984. Inequality increased sharply within each cohort, particularly steeply in Depression-era, war-baby, and leading-edge baby boom cohorts. The top quintile of elderly received increasing shares of most income sources. Implications Increasing inequality among older people, and especially in cohorts approaching late life, presages upcoming financial challenges for elderly persons in the lower part of the income distribution. Implications of this increasingly high-inequality late-life environment need to be carefully evaluated as changes are considered in Social Security and other safety-net institutions, which moderate impacts of economic forces that drive increasingly disparate late-life economic outcomes.

AB - Purpose of the Study Earlier studies have identified a pattern of cumulative advantage leading to increased within-cohort economic inequality over the life course, but there is a need to better understand how levels of inequality by age have changed in the evolving economic environment of recent decades. We utilized Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data to compare economic inequality across age groups for 2010 versus 1983-1984. Design and Methods We examined changing age profiles of inequality using a summary measure of economic resources taking into account income, annuitized value of wealth, and household size. We adjusted for survey underreporting of some income and asset types, based on National Income Accounts and other independent estimates of national aggregates. We examined inequality by age with Gini coefficients. Results Late-life (65+) inequality increased between the 2 periods, with Gini coefficients remaining higher than during the working years, but with a less steep age difference in inequality in 2010 than in 1983-1984. Inequality increased sharply within each cohort, particularly steeply in Depression-era, war-baby, and leading-edge baby boom cohorts. The top quintile of elderly received increasing shares of most income sources. Implications Increasing inequality among older people, and especially in cohorts approaching late life, presages upcoming financial challenges for elderly persons in the lower part of the income distribution. Implications of this increasingly high-inequality late-life environment need to be carefully evaluated as changes are considered in Social Security and other safety-net institutions, which moderate impacts of economic forces that drive increasingly disparate late-life economic outcomes.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85030783014&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85030783014&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/geront/gnw056

DO - 10.1093/geront/gnw056

M3 - Article

C2 - 27030008

AN - SCOPUS:85030783014

VL - 57

SP - 910

EP - 920

JO - The Gerontologist

JF - The Gerontologist

SN - 0016-9013

IS - 5

ER -