Poverty, Household Composition and Welfare States: A Multilevel Analysis of 22 Countries

Tsui-o Tai, University of California, Irvine
Judith Treas, University of California, Irvine

This cross-national study examines poverty of older adults and their household members and relates the risk of poverty to macro-level state approaches to welfare as well as to micro-level composition of households. Data on individuals in households containing older adults for 22 countries come from the Luxembourg Income Survey. Besides relating the risk of poverty to the type of state welfare regime, multi-level robust-cluster analysis considers household characteristics. As results show, persons in households with older adults are significantly less likely to be poor in countries with social democratic and conservative welfare regimes than in Taiwan, an exemplar of limited social welfare programs. Controlling for country differences in household composition increases the differences in poverty risks. Countries with more generous social welfare provisions have lower risks of poverty despite having household characteristics that are comparatively unfavorable. As Taiwan demonstrates, household composition, particularly a reliance on multi-generational households, compensates for limited state welfare programs.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 7