Home Ownership Trends Among Older Americans

Home ownership peaks at age 65, then falls slowly until the age of 75, when the rate of home ownership declines steadily, according to a new report by EBRI.

The EBRI study finds that owning is the most common housing arrangement for older Americans: At the traditional retirement age of 65, more than 8 in 10 Americans report living in houses they own. After 65, home ownership rates fall and at the age of 90, 6 in 10 Americans report living in their own houses.

“Housing is not only an asset, it also provides housing services,” said Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the report. “That is why housing wealth does not start to decline until people reach very advanced ages.”

EBRI’s research shows that death of a spouse is the most common factor associated with a housing transition: Almost 42 percent of households that went from owning to renting experienced the death of spouses. The next-most common factor is a drop in household income: 30.5 percent of households that made such transitions also reported drops in household income. Just over 1 in 10 households that shift from owning to renting report nursing-home entry of a family member (self or spouse).

The full report, “Own to Rent Transitions and Changes in Housing Equity for Older Americans,”  is published in the July 2012 EBRI Notes, online here.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute based in Washington, DC, that focuses on health, savings, retirement, and economic security issues. EBRI does not lobby and does not take policy positions. The work of EBRI is made possible by funding from its members and sponsors, which includes a broad range of public, private, for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

1 in 5 Older Americans Cutting Back on Health Care to Save Money

More than 20 percent of Americans age 50 or over report saving on health costs by switching to cheaper generic drugs, getting free samples, stopping pills or reducing dosages, and nearly as many skip or postpone doctor appointments for the same reason, according a new report by EBRI.

The data suggest that spending by those near or in retirement declines to match income, even when it means giving up real needs.

“We know that consumption tends to fall with age, but it’s difficult to measure whether falling consumption is voluntary,” said Sudipto Banerjee of EBRI, author of the study. “However, we found evidence that a significant segment of the older population may be making spending adjustments to their health care in order to save money.”

The study is based on data from the 2009 Internet Survey of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The full report is published in the January 2012 EBRI Notes, “Spending Adjustments Made By Older Americans to Save Money,” online at here.