Expenditures for Health Care among Older, Single Women in the United States: Impact on Economic Status and Implications for Public Policy

  • Roberta W. Walsh
  • Jane Kolodinsky


Expenditure patterns, income and price elasticities of older, single women in three income classifications are compared with a similar sample of men, using data from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey. Elasticities are estimated based on a complete demand system using Frisch’s (1959) money flexibility parameter, incorporating the price of time (wage rate) for the samples. Results suggest that women’s inability to adjust spending to price increases contributed to a decline in their standard of living, particularly as it affects consumption of health care. Implications for public policy point to a targeted approach to the current national health care policy debate, in recognition of the particularly adverse effects of the status quo on older, single women.