Poverty grips the elderly

  • 2010-12-01
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - In 2008, the at-risk-of-poverty rate of older women, according to Statistics Estonia, was more than two times higher than that of older men, reports news agency LETA. Forty-one percent of women aged 65 and older, and 19 percent of men of the same age lived in relative poverty.

These are the facts set out in the newly published collection ‘Sotsiaaltrendid. 5. Social Trends’ that analyses ageing of the population and its impact on society.
In 2008, almost every fifth person in Estonia lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. Among people aged 65 and older more than a third were in relative poverty. Thus, compared to other populations in Estonia, older people were much more prone to experience problems related to economic difficulties.

Females in particular tend to end up in economic difficulties due to their longer life expectancy. If slightly more than a fourth of the women aged 55–64 live alone, then more than half of the women aged 75 or older are living alone. Similarly, the share of men living alone also increases at older age, but this increase is still relatively moderate compared to that of women. Only 28 percent of men aged 75 and over are living alone.

In old age, the income of one person is not sufficient to avoid poverty. Seventy-one percent of persons aged over 64 and living alone were in poverty. The risk of falling into poverty is much lower among elderly couples compared to other households. Only 3 percent of the couples, where both partners were older than 64 years, lived in relative poverty in 2008.
Bigger income does not automatically ensure greater subjectively perceived welfare. Compared to other households, the single elderly people consider their coping capacity to be the worst. One in every five elderly persons living alone made ends meet only through difficulties, and two in every five claimed to cope with some difficulties. Their assessment of their coping capacity is comparable with that of single parents, who made ends meet only slightly better.

A couple aged over 64, whose at-risk-of-poverty rate was the lowest, did not deem their economic situation to be the best of all. Forty percent of such couples coped with some difficulties or with difficulties, whereas only 5 percent of the couples said they cope with no trouble. Couples with one or two children as well as people under 65, who live either alone or with a partner, deemed the economic coping capacity of their household to be better compared to the afore-mentioned group.