- Volume 56 Issue 2
The public assistance scheme plays more important role in income maintenance for poor elders than the public pension does due to insufficient coverage of the public pension resulted from late introduction of it in Korea. However, only limited numbers of poor elders are financially protected by the public assistance contrary to the general perception that the elderly population most benefits from public aids. Based on data set of 2000 from the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study, this study analysed the size, composition and characteristics of poor elders excluded from the public assistance, and determinants of the elderly's participation in it. Findings of the study can be summarized as follows: (1) More than half of poor elders are excluded from the public assistance although their economic status is similar with that of recipients, which may cause income reversal between recipients and non-recipients. (2) It was identified that non-recipient poor elders especially those with same income level of recipients of the National Livelihood Guarantees(NLG) are actually in desperate need of public aids considering their serious financial conditions. (3) Participation in public assistance among the elderly is more affected by socio-demographic factors that reflect family conditions than by economic factors, which is mostly caused by the strict eligibility criteria of the public assistance that reinforces family duty of financial support for elderly relatives in Korea. Policy implications for more effective income security for poor elders include revising inappropriate eligibility criteria of the NLG concerning family obligations, expanding the coverage of the old age allowance for poor elders to near-poor elders, and providing work opportunities to non-recipient poor elders to supplement their income deficit.