Category Archives: Older People

Mortality Rates From COVID-19 Are Lower In Unionized Nursing Homes

Source: Adam Dean, Atheendar Venkataramani, and Simeon Kimmel, Health Affairs, Ahead of Print, September 10, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
More than 40% of all reported coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) deaths in the United States have occurred in nursing homes. As a result, health care worker access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control policies in nursing homes have received increased attention. However, it is not known if the presence of health care worker unions in nursing homes is associated with COVID-19 mortality rates. Therefore, we used cross-sectional regression analysis to examine the association between the presence of health care worker unions and COVID-19 mortality rates in 355 nursing homes in New York State. Health care worker unions were associated with a 1.29 percentage point mortality reduction, which represents a 30% relative decrease in the COVID-19 mortality rate compared to facilities without health care worker unions. Unions were also associated with greater access to PPE, one mechanism that may link unions to lower COVID-19 mortality rates. [Editor’s Note: This Fast Track Ahead Of Print article is the accepted version of the peer-reviewed manuscript. The final edited version will appear in an upcoming issue of Health Affairs.]

Why Retirement, Social Security, and Age Discrimination Policies Need to Consider the Intersectional Experiences of Older Women

Source: Ian Burn, Patrick Button, Theodore F Figinski, Joanne Song McLaughlin, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 30, Issue 3, 2020
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From the abstract:
Population aging makes retirement security a critical issue. Unfortunately, retirement security is deteriorating over time, and there is a significant amount of income inequality in retirement (Poterba, 2014). Recent cuts to Social Security (e.g., the increase in the full retirement age [FRA], which is the age at which workers can retire with full benefits) partly drive the erosion in retirement security, and similar cuts may be forthcoming. Extending work lives into older ages is thus increasingly important to improve retirement security (Button, 2020; Maestas, 2010, 2018).

However, retirement security is significantly worse for older women, compared to older men, as older women face higher rates of poverty, especially at older ages. Figure 1 shows that poverty rates for older men are relatively consistent by age, ranging from 7.1% to 8.1%. For women, poverty rates start at 8.4% for ages 65 to 69 (compared to 7.1% for men) and rise to 13.5% for ages 80 and older (compared to 8.1% for men). This disparity in poverty rates may be increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current recession, as early evidence suggests that women ages 65 and older faced larger increases in unemployment rates compared to men and younger women (Bui, Button, & Picciotti, 2020).

In this report, we document trends and policies that contribute to the increased poverty faced by older women. We hope our examples of how older women face different experiences make a clear case for considering the impacts on older women, specifically, when setting policy.

Working Longer Versus Flexible Pathways in Uncertain Times

Source: Phyllis Moen, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 30 Issue 3, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The timing of later life-course work exits has enormous consequences for individuals and families, as well as for governments confronting population aging and corollary rising Social Security and health care costs. A seemingly obvious policy solution is to encourage Boomers and those following in their wake to work longer, postponing retirement from the labor market. To encourage ongoing labor force engagement, the United States has delayed full Social Security benefit eligibility to age 67, while simultaneously offering the carrot of greater benefits for those who continue working to age 70. Growing numbers of older Americans,…

Early Evidence on the Impact of COVID-19 and the Recession on Older Workers

Source: Truc Thi Mai Bui, Patrick Button, Elyce G. Picciotti, NBER Working Paper No. 27448, June 2020

From the abstract:

We summarize some of the early effects and discuss possible future effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on the employment outcomes of older workers in the United States. We start by discussing what we know about how older workers faired in prior recessions in the United States and how COVID-19 and this recession may differ. We then estimate some early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession on employment and unemployment rates by age group and sex using Current Population Survey data. We calculate employment and unemployment rates multiple ways to account for the complicated employment situation and possible errors in survey enumeration. We find that while previous recessions, in some ways, did not affect employment outcomes for older workers as much, this recession disproportionately affected older workers of ages 65 and older. For example, we find that unemployment rates in April 2020 increased to 15.43% for those ages 65 and older, compared to 12.99% for those ages 25-44. We also find that COVID-19 and the recession disproportionately affected women, where women have reached higher unemployment rates than men, which was consistent for all age groups and unemployment rate measures we used.

Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society

Source: Deborah Thorne – University of Idaho, Pamela Foohey – Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Robert M. Lawless – University of Illinois College of Law, Katherine M. Porter – University of California – Irvine School of Law, August 5, 2018

From the abstract:
The social safety net for older Americans has been shrinking for the past couple decades. The risks associated with aging, reduced income, and increased healthcare costs, have been off-loaded onto older individuals. At the same time, older Americans are increasingly likely to file consumer bankruptcy, and their representation among those in bankruptcy has never been higher. Using data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, we find more than a two-fold increase in the rate at which older Americans (age 65 and over) file for bankruptcy and an almost five-fold increase in the percentage of older persons in the U.S. bankruptcy system. The magnitude of growth in older Americans in bankruptcy is so large that the broader trend of an aging U.S. population can explain only a small portion of the effect. In our data, older Americans report they are struggling with increased financial risks, namely inadequate income and unmanageable costs of healthcare, as they try to deal with reductions to their social safety net. As a result of these increased financial burdens, the median senior bankruptcy filer enters bankruptcy with negative wealth of $17,390 as compared to more than $250,000 for their non-bankrupt peers. For an increasing number of older Americans, their golden years are fraught with economic risks, the result of which is often bankruptcy.

Why Retaining Older Women in the Workforce Will Help the U.S. Economy

Source: Amy Lui Abel and Diane Lim, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Knowledge@Wharton, June 6, 2018

In this opinion piece, researchers Amy Lui Abel and Diane Lim of The Conference Board explain why demographic and economic trends provide an opportunity for older women to expand their role in the labor market. Several female-dominated occupations — especially in health care services — face shortages that will only grow. But given the unique needs and circumstances of older women, realizing their full economic contribution will hinge on employers providing them with more flexible work environments. If companies do this, the greying of America could become an opportunity rather than a threat.

Warning: Short-Term Health Plans = Higher Premiums for Older Adults

Source: Jane Sung and Lina Walker, AARP Blog, Thinking Policy, March 21, 2018

You might have thought that efforts to unravel the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were over, but newly proposed regulations and legislation are once again threatening to have similar harmful effects for older adults ages 50-64 who rely on individual market coverage. On February 21, 2018, the Trump Administration proposed new federal rules calling for significant expansion of a category of insurance products known as “short-term limited duration” insurance plans. More recently, Congress is considering legislation that would block states, who typically regulate these plans, from taking steps to protect consumers from the harms of these proposed federal rules once they are finalized. Unfortunately, these changes would result in much higher premiums for older adults and people with preexisting health conditions buying individual policies through the ACA Marketplace.

Inside IBM’s Purge of Thousands of Workers Who Have One Thing in Common

Source: Peter Gosselin, Ariana Tobinmar, Mother Jones & ProPublica, March 22, 2018

….But when high tech suddenly started shifting and companies went global, IBM faced the changing landscape with a distinction most of its fiercest competitors didn’t have: a large number of experienced and aging US employees.

The company reacted with a strategy that, in the words of one confidential planning document, would “correct seniority mix.” It slashed IBM’s US workforce by as much as three-quarters from its 1980s peak, replacing a substantial share with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers and sending many positions overseas. ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its total US job cuts during those years. (Read more about how ProPublica got the story here.)

In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked US laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees…..

Does Paid Family Leave Reduce Nursing Home Use? The California Experience

Source: Kanika Arora, Douglas A. Wolf, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 37, Issue 1, Winter 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The intent of Paid Family Leave (PFL) is to make it financially easier for individuals to take time off from paid work to care for children and seriously ill family members. Given the linkages between care provided by family members and the usage of paid services, we examine whether California’s PFL program influenced nursing home utilization in California during the 1999 to 2008 period. This is the first empirical study to examine the effects of PFL on long-term care patterns. Multivariate difference-in-difference estimates across alternative comparison groups provide consistent evidence that the implementation of PFL reduced the proportion of the elderly population in nursing homes by 0.5 to 0.7 percentage points. Our preferred estimate, employing an empirically-matched group of control states, finds that PFL reduced nursing home usage by about 0.65 percentage points. For California, this represents an 11 percent relative decline in elderly nursing home utilization.