Income and Poverty among Older Koreans

Relative Contributions of and Relationship between Public and Family Transfers

by Jinkook Lee, Drystan Phillips

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The authors examined the economic wellbeing of the Korean elderly and their reliance on public and private transfers. Under-developed public transfer programs are at the center of heated political debates, and better understanding of economic wellbeing and the relation between public and private transfers will provide further insights in evaluating policy reform proposals under consideration. Using data from the 2006 and 2008 Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging, they found that the elderly poverty rate between 2006 and 2008 decreased significantly but was still significantly higher than other OECD countries. This poverty reduction did not benefit individuals who were older, less educated, living alone, living in rural areas, or in poor health. They found that low income elderly who co-reside depend almost completely on the income of their children or other household members. Public transfers account for no more than a third of income for low-income elderly, while private transfers accounted for half. Their analysis suggests that crowding-out is not a real concern in increasing welfare transfers for the low-income elderly.

This paper series was made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

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