Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



What is an adequate income for older adults in Massachusetts to age in place? How does it vary according to where they live, and their life circumstances: whether they are living alone or with a spouse, rent or own their home, drive a car or use other transportation? How do elders’ living costs change as their health status and life circumstances change? What happens if they need long-term care to keep living at home?

This report will address these questions through the development of a measure of income adequacy for older adults using the WOW-GI National Elder Economic Security Standard (Elder Standard) methodology. The Elder Standard will benchmark basic costs of living for elder households. It will illustrate how costs of living vary geographically and are based on the characteristics of elder households: household size, homeownership or renter, mode of transportation, and health status. The costs are for basic needs of elder households; they are based on market costs and do not assume any subsidies.


The multi-year national Elder Economic Security Initiative (Initiative) at Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) offers a conceptual framework and concrete tools to shape public policies and programs to promote the economic well-being of older adults. The Initiative combines coalition building, research, education and advocacy at the community, state and national levels. With support from the Retirement Research Foundation, WOW partnered with five pilot states, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin, to launch the national Initiative. Support from The Atlantic Philanthropies will expand the project in up to twenty states, including Minnesota, Connecticut, New Jersey, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, West Virginia, Washington, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and South Dakota in an effort that will ultimately result in a national database with information on all 50 states and the District of Columbia.



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