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CHAPTER III

THE NEED FOR A DECENT INCOME

Since the writing of its report for 1960, the subcommittee has found no reason to revise the basic conclusions reached at that time:

Regardless of the method used to present material on the income status of America's aged, one fact stands out clearly: The income of many of the aged is below what is considered an adequate income requirement for Americans living in mid20th century. To be sure, there are significant variations. Those aged who are employed full time are better off than those employed part time, or out of the labor force altogether. The aged with private pension income along with social security benefits are more favorably situated than those with only one of these forms of income. Married women are

better off than widows. Just as in the case of health of the aged, the need for objective and reliable data concerning the financial position of older Americans is great and such knowledge is a prerequisite for sound decisions in the realm of public policy, especially for the Congress. The subcommittee wishes to express its concern over the careless manner in which some privately sponsored surveys about the aged have been conducted, interpreted, and publicized-with resultant confusion in the minds of much of the public. On the other hand, the inadequately publicized official studies by the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Survey of Consumer Finances (until recently, financed by the Federal Reserve Board) continue to be the major sources of reliable information for the subcommittee.

SUMMARY OF INCOME STATUS OF THE AGED

A summary of the income situation of the aged, according to the Bureau of the Census, might best be presented in the following form: 1. Among 6.2 million families headed by an aged person in 1959:

(a) One-third had less than $2,000 in money income from all sources;

(6) About one-third had between $2,000 and $4,000;
(c) About one-sixth had between $4,000 and $6,000;

(d) The remainder, slightly more than one-sixth, had $6,000 or more. In judging these incomes, the average family size of 2.6 persons should be borne in mind. 2. For 3.6 aged persons living alone or with nonrelatives:

(a) One-half had incomes of less than $1,000;
(6) Slightly less than one-third had between $1,000 and $2,000;
(c) One-tenth had between $2,000 and $3,000;

(d) The remainder, one-tenth, had $3,000 or more. 3. Another group-numbering about 2.4 million-lives in the homes of younger relatives and information about their incomes is not available.

[graphic]

TABLE 1.–Age of head: Families and unrelated individuals by total money income in 1959, for the United States, urban and rural

[Median not shown where base is less than 200,000; percent not shown where less than 0.1]

Total money income

Total

14 to
24

thousands.

45,062
100.0

5. 8

UNITED STATES
Total:

Number

Percent..
Under $500
$500 to $999.
$1,000 to $1,499.
$1,500 to $1,999.
$2,000 to $2,499.
$2,500 to $2,999
$3,000 to $3,499.
$3,500 to $3,999.
$4,000 to $4,499.
$4,500 to $4,999
$5,000 to $5,999.
$6,000 to $6,999.
$7,000 to $7,999-
$8,000 to $9,999.
$10,000 to $14,999.
$15,000 to $24,999.
$25,000 and over.
Median income
Head year-round full-time worker:

Percent of total.
Median income-

2.4
2.7
4.0
4.3
4.6
4.7
5.3
4.8
5.9
5.8
13. 2
11.0

8.4
10.6
9.1
2.4
0.7

$5, 417

URBAN

Number
Median income-

thousands. 27, 620

$5, 755

RURAL NONFARM

Number
Median income.

RURAL FARM

Number
Median income-

thousands.

3,800 $2,800

Source: Bureau of Census, Current Population Reports, series P-60, No. 35.

Altogether, nearly three-fifths of our aged individuals had less than $1,000 money income in 1959.

The distribution of income in our population reveals the relationship of age to income: on the average, income is higher for the 35to 44-year-old age group among males than for younger and older men. The median income of this age group in 1959 was 80 percent higher than the median for the comparable age group in 1949. For all men aged 14 and over, the 1949–59 increase in median income was 70.3 percent. On the other hand, for aged men, the increase was only 55.1 percent.

In 1949, the median money income of aged men was 43 percent of the national median for all men 14 years and over. Ten years later, in 1959, this proportion decreased to 39 percent. In 1949, the money income for families with aged heads was 60 percent of that for all families in the country, but by 1959 this percentage had decreased to 52 percent.

[graphic]

TABLE 2.-Age and veteran status: Persons 14 years of age and over by total money income in 1959, by sex, for the United States, urban

and rural

[Median not shown where base is less than 200,000; percent not shown where less than 0.1]

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$1,500 to $1,999
$2,000 to $2,499
$2,500 to $2,999.
$3,000 to $3,499.
$3,500 to $3,999
$4,000 to $4,499.
$4,500 to $4,999.
$5,000 to $5,999
$6,000 to $6.999
$7.000 to $7,999.
$8,000 to $9,999.
$10,000 to $14,999.
$15,000 to $24,999..
$25,000 and over.

Median income
Year-round full-time workers:

Percent of all income recipients.
Median income.

-thousands..

---do...

URBAN
Male:

Number of persons.
Number of persons with income.

Median income..
Female:

Number of persons.
Number of persons with income
Median income.

thousands.

do..

thousands..

....do.--

RURAL NONFARM
Male:

Number of persons.
Number of persons with income.

Median income
Female:

Number of persons.
Number of persons with income.
Median income..

thousands.

.do..

-thousands.

..do...

RURAL FARM
Male:

Number of persons.
Number of persons with income.

Median income.
Female:

Number of persons.
Number of persons with income-
Median income

thousands..

--do..

1 Veteran status of women not obtained.

Source: Ibid

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