Old and poor: Policy challenges in the 1990s

Karen Davis, Diane Rowland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Despite an overall decline in the rate of poverty among elderly people in recent decades, certain subgroups of the elderly still suffer from high poverty rates. These include elders living alone, minorities, the very old, and widows. The gap between these vulnerable subgroups and more affluent elders is expected to grow in the decades to come. The most important tool available to policymakers seeking to reduce elderly poverty is the SSI program. An increase in benefit levels is recommended as well as a vigorous outreach program, because about half of elders apparently eligible are not participants. A second important tool is Medicaid. As of 1984, only 29% of poor elders, and 8% of near-poor elders, received Medicaid coverage to fill gaps in Medicare. Remedial measures are outlined. Altogether, at an estimated annual cost of only $5 billion, the United States could eliminated elderly poverty and assure that no elderly person is driven into poverty of burdensome medical expenses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-59
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Aging and Social Policy
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 5 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Gerontology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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