UMass-Boston’s Gerontology Institute Examines Elder Economic Security in Massachusetts

May 10, 2023

UMass-Boston’s Gerontology Institute, building on their recent report with a national view that compares elder economic security, released a new update with a focus on Massachusetts. New estimates from the 2022 Elder IndexTM reveal that the cost of living in Massachusetts has increased substantially in recent years for older adults, especially for renters.

The Elder Index measures the necessary costs faced by households made up of one or two older adults, calculated county by county for the entire United States. Estimated costs are higher in Massachusetts than in any other state in the nation.

Within the Commonwealth, the Elder Index is lowest in Western Massachusetts, and highest in Metro Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, with differences in the Elder Index across locations accounted for largely by the cost of housing. Comparing household incomes to the Elder Index, we calculate the percentage of independent older adults with incomes that do not support economic security.

Massachusetts ranks at the top among the states in percentage of older singles with incomes below the Elder Index value, at 57%, and it ranks fourth nationally among couples, at 26%. Together, these figures suggest that nearly 300,000 Massachusetts single or coupled residents aged 65 or older live with incomes below what it takes to cover essentials.

Detailed info comparing county-level data within Massachusetts is available here.