Economic Well-Being and Poverty Among the Elderly: An Analysis Based on a Collective Consumption Model

L.J.H. Cherchye, B. de Rock, F.M.P. Vermeulen

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We apply the collective consumption model of Browning, Chiappori and Lew- bel (2006) to analyse economic well-being and poverty among the elderly. The model focuses on individual preferences, a consumption technology that captures the economies of scale of living in a couple, and a sharing rule that governs the intra-household allocation of resources. The model is applied to a time series of Dutch consumption expenditure surveys. Our empirical results indicate substan- tial economies of scale and a wife's share that is increasing in total expenditures. We further calculated poverty rates by means of the collective consumption model. Collective poverty rates of widows and widowers turn out to be slightly lower than traditional ones based on a standard equivalence scale. Poverty among women (men) in elderly couples, however, seems to be heavily underestimated (overesti- mated) by the traditional approach. Finally, we analysed the impact of becoming a widow(er). Based on cross-sectional evidence, we find that the drop (increase) in material well-being following the husband's death is substantial for women in high (low) expenditure couples. For men, the picture is reversed.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • collective model
  • intra-household allocation
  • indifference scales
  • economies of scale
  • poverty


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