Edward D. Ng

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study is an attempt to evaluate Samuel Preston's assertion that American elderly have recently fared far better than children in terms of poverty and mortality reduction. The divergent paths of America's dependents are related to family breakdown, the rise of politics of aging, and the differential response of health care and education to population change.;An examination of poverty in Canada found a recent reversal of economic well-being of seniors and children. Our analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances shows that between 1973 and 1985 government transfer did increasingly favour the elderly more than children. However, many elderly were pulled just within 10% above the low income cut-offs.;An examination of mortality decline supports the conclusion that both Canadian elderly and children are faring quite well between 1971 to 1989. Possibly, this reflects the fact that health care in Canada is accessible according to needs, not age. Even though seniors benefit more from the growth of health care budgets, there is no sign of political pressure for health care to respond to seniors at the expense of children. There is also no evidence of a declining educational environment for Canadian children. The decline in the relative number of children has not resulted in a lowered salary for teachers, partly due to strong teachers' unions.;In addition, the gray lobby in Canada has not been as effective as their American counterparts, partly due to the different nature of political process. However, elderly are probably more successful than other age groups in influencing policies. While the 1986 National Election Study shows that seniors vote more often than others, the 1989-90 Middlesex-Oxford qualitative survey reveals that seniors have a sense of intergenerational solidarity. In contrast, those between 45 and 64 are more likely than other groups to favour programs benefitting seniors, instead of those for the young.;Intergenerational equity and transfers have been underlying political discussion on resource allocation in the past two decades. Whereas government policies have traditionally focused on income adequacy for seniors, debates on intergenerational (in)equity may emerge again in the 1990s as child poverty becomes an issue with which to reckon.



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