Older Americans and Poverty | WYPR

Older Americans and Poverty

Mar 22, 2018

Efforts to keep older Americans in the workforce longer could help combat America’s high rates of old age poverty and also reducing inequality—this according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD. The Paris-based think tank provides advice on the best policies to follow to its 35 member governments. The report calls upon America to support longer careers for all socioeconomic groups as a way to diminish old-age poverty without placing additional strain on pension systems. More than 20 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have an income that classifies them below the poverty line. For purposes of the OECD study, poverty was defined as half of median disposable household income.  Future retirees face even higher risks of poverty as inequality advances. As indicated in The Wall Street Journal, while America has a higher share of older people in the workforce compared to most major economies, how people fare in their later years depends critically on educational attainment.  The gap between workers with different skillsets is enormous and poised to widen as digital transition progresses according to OECD analysts. One way to support longer careers is by offering flexible or phased retirement. Under such a system, older workers receive a full or partial pension benefit while continuing in paid work, often with reduced hours. Far fewer Americans work part-time in retirement relative to populations in Germany and the United Kingdom.