This study decomposes the changes in income distribution among older adults between 1996 and 2016 in South Korea. We found that income distribution among older adults worsened between 1996 and 2010 and then improved between 2010 and 2016. From 1996 to 2010, the rapid change in living arrangements was the most powerful contributor to the worsening income distribution. The decrease in market income also contributed to reducing the median income and increasing poverty. Yet, expanded public transfers cancelled out most of the negative effects of the decrease in market income. From 2010 to 2016, the change in living arrangement still significantly decreased median income and increased inequality and poverty. The increase in market income considerably contributed to the increase in median income and the decrease in poverty. Above all, the rise in public transfer income became the most influential contributor to the increase in median income and the decrease in inequality and poverty.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.