Pathways into chronic multidimensional poverty amongst older people: A longitudinal study

Emily J. Callander, Deborah J. Schofield

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Background: The use of multidimensional poverty measures is becoming more common for measuring the living standards of older people. However, the pathways into poverty are relatively unknown, nor is it known how this affects the length of time people are in poverty for. Methods: Using Waves 1 to 12 of the nationally representative Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, longitudinal analysis was undertaken to identify the order that key forms of disadvantage develop - poor health, low income and insufficient education attainment - amongst Australians aged 65 years and over in multidimensional poverty, and the relationship this has with chronic poverty. Path analysis and linear regression models were used. Results: For all older people with at least a Year 10 level of education attainment earlier mental health was significantly related to later household income (p = 0.001) and wealth (p = 0.017). For all older people with at less than a Year 10 level of education attainment earlier household income was significantly related to later mental health (p = 0.021). When limited to those in multidimensional poverty who were in income poverty and also had poor health, older people generally fell into income poverty first and then developed poor health. The order in which income poverty and poor health were developed had a significant influence on the length of time older people with less than a Year 10 level of education attainment were in multidimensional poverty for. Those who developed poor health first then fell into income poverty spend significantly less time in multidimensional poverty (-4.90, p < .0001) than those who fell into income poverty then developed poor health. Conclusion: Knowing the order that different forms of disadvantage develop, and the influence this has on poverty entrenchment, is of use to policy makers wishing to provide interventions to prevent older people being in long-Term multidimensional poverty.

Original languageEnglish
Article number62
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Income
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Overall health status
  • Poverty

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