Less than $10,000

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

“57% of Americans living alone have less than $10,000 when they die” reads a report from a team of researchers from Harvard, MIT, and Dartmouth College. At the same time, the appeal of Going Solo is discussed in universities, bookshops, tv and radio channels thanks to the launch of Klinenberg’s book. It was a pleasure attending the presentation of the book in Berkeley and in San Francisco.

Is living alone in older age a conquest or a struggle? I would say both. I think it is useful to use the carrot of the appeal of this new “social experiment” of so many of us living alone to raise all the possible flags around the dark side of this living condition. Yes, the  dark side is not sexy. The study on the scarce financial resources of those dying with little means did not hit many headlines for instance.

My hope is that we do not forget the struggles of living alone in older age in America. During the presentation of the book, Klinenberg mentioned some of the struggles – cut in public services, isolation, solitary hoarding. He underlined, especially in Berkeley, that people are more likely to live alone more easily in countries with a strong welfare state, like in Sweden or France. Probably dying with little assets in a country with a strong public services is not as daunting than dying with little assets in a country with dwindling and hard to access public services.



About 57 percent of older people who live alone have less than $10,000 when they die, according to a recent study posted on the blog of the Financial Security Project at Boston College.

Much of the focus on retirement has been on how much Americans have accumulated as they enter retirement. But a team that included economists James Poterba at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Steven Venti at Dartmouth College, and David Wise at Harvard University looked at where retirees wind up financially.

Other findings: Of elderly people living alone, 57.1 percent had no home equity; nearly a third of elderly couples had less than $10,000.

Some retirees give away assets as a strategy to avoid estate taxes, but “a frightening share of the elderly seems to run out of money,’’ the post said.




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