Living Alone in the United States and Europe: The Impact of Public Support on the Independence of Older Adults

Stipica Mudrazija , Urban Institute
Jacqueline Angel, University of Texas at Austin
Ivan Cipin, University of Zagreb
Sime Smolic, University of Zagreb

Living alone is often associated with greater risk of financial hardship, but we have limited knowledge on the possible link between availability of public support and living independently. We use data from the 2014 Health and Retirement Study for the United States and the 2011-2015 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe for 19 European countries and fit logistic regression and multilevel models to assess cross-national differences in the likelihood of living alone and estimate the impact of public support on living alone. The likelihood of living alone is higher in generous welfare states and public support has positive impact on it. The link between personal resources and living alone has a smaller positive gradient in countries with robust welfare systems. The lack of adequate public support in less generous welfare states may constrain the ability of many low-income older adults without a partner to continue living independently.

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 Presented in Session 2. Flash Session: Population Aging, Consequences, and Public Policies