Social Security and elderly living arrangements: Evidence from the Social Security notch

Gary V. Engelhardt, Jonathan Gruber, Cynthia D. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Previous studies of the effect of Social Security on elderly living arrangements generally have relied on data from the distant past or differences in benefits across families or cohorts that potentially were correlated with other determinants of living arrangements. Using data from the 1980-99 Current Population Surveys, we attempt to isolate the causal effect of Social Security on living arrangements with an instrumental-variable approach that relies on the large shifts in benefits for cohorts born from 1910-21, the so-called Social Security notch. Over all elderly households, the estimated elasticity of living with others with respect to Social Security income is -0.4, with elasticities of -1.3 and -1.4 for the widowed and divorced, respectively; most of the effects on living arrangements appear to be concentrated among the lesser educated as well. Our estimated elasticities are substantially larger than those from previous studies and suggest that reductions in current benefits would alter living arrangements significantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-372
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Human Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Social Security and elderly living arrangements: Evidence from the Social Security notch'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this