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A Profile of Older Americans: 2003

Poverty

About 3.6 million elderly persons (10.4%) were below the poverty level in 2002. This poverty rate was not statistically different from the poverty rate in 2001. The historic lowest level of 9.7% reached in 1999. Another 2.2 million or 6.4% of the elderly were classified as "near-poor" (income between the poverty level and 125% of this level).

One of every twelve (8.3%) elderly Whites was poor in 2002, compared to 23.8% of elderly African-Americans and 21.4% of elderly Hispanics. Higher than average poverty rates for older persons were found among those who lived in central cities (12.2%), outside metropolitan areas (i.e. rural areas) (11.9%), and in the South (12.7%).

Older women had a higher poverty rate (12.4%) than older men (7.7%) in 2002. Older persons living alone were much more likely to be poor (19.2%) than were older persons living with families (6.0%). The highest poverty rates (47.1%) were experienced by older Hispanic women who lived alone.

(Based on data from Current Population Reports, "Poverty in the United States: 2002," P60-229, Issued September, 2003 and related Internet releases of the U.S. Bureau of the Census).

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