Poor because of low pensions or expensive housing? The combined impact of pension and housing systems on poverty among the elderly

N. Delfani, J. De Deken, C.L. Dewilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to illustrate how pension and housing systems together affect poverty among the elderly. We analyse Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands, each with different combinations of pension and housing institutions. Using EU-SILC data for 2009, we distinguish between income-poverty and deprivation, the former to evaluate the performance of pension systems and the latter to judge how the impact of housing systems on income-poverty translates into deprivation. The focus is on risk groups such as the separated, the widowed, the former self-employed and retirees with short or irregular employment histories. The findings are that pensions, since they often exclude particular groups, such as households with less than 25 years of employment, increase the elderly income-poverty risk for those groups. The risk of being income-poor is somewhat alleviated in the case of a generous flat-rate public pension, but even then households with less than 25 years of employment have higher levels of income-poverty. Outright home-ownership provides households the opportunity to live rent-free and thus yields income-in-kind. Housing systems in which home-ownership is dominant often also have high levels of outright home-ownership among the income-poor elderly, compensating for the low income-in-cash that they receive as a pension, thus reducing deprivation.
Keywords: poverty, elderly, pensions, housing, deprivation, home-ownership, Europe
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-284
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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