While we know that living alone is often associated with greater risk of financial hardship, we have limited knowledge on the possible link between the availability of public support and independent living. We use data from the 2014 Health and Retirement Study and the 2011–2015 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe to compare income and wealth profiles of the population aged 60 and above who are living alone in the United States and 19 European countries. We find that the likelihood of living alone is higher in generous welfare states, with social support and spending both positively associated with living alone. The relationship between personal resources and living alone has a smaller positive gradient in countries with robust welfare systems. The lack of adequate public support in less generous welfare states may constrain the ability of many low-income older adults without a partner to continue living independently.
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