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Exploring the Risks and Consequences of Elder Fraud Victimization: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study
WP 2017-374
Marguerite DeLiema, Martha Deevy, Annamaria Lusardi, and Olivia S. Mitchell 

  • Using information from the 2008-2012 core Health and Retirement Study surveys and the Psychosocial Leave-Behind Participant Lifestyle Questionnaires, the authors found:
    • The fraction of older persons reporting they had been the victims of fraud within the five-year retrospective window was 4 percent (in 2008), 5 percent (in 2010), and 7 percent (in 2012). The overall rate for the pooled sample was 5 percent. These figures are less than half the national prevalence rate for all U.S. adults that was estimated for 2011, but they are similar to others’ reports that 4 percent of adults 45 and older were victims of a major consumer swindle in the past year.
    • Age was negatively associated with people reporting that they had been the victim of a fraud, and men were more likely to report being defrauded than were women.
    • Better educated people were less likely to report being victimized, while being wealthier was not systematically associated with greater prevalence of fraud.
    • The subgroup most likely to report being defrauded was low-educated, white, married couples, comprising 40 percent of the total victims. Highly-educated, white, married couples made up about a quarter of the group, with smaller fractions among the remainder of the population.
    • Being victimized was not systematically associated with lower levels of health or wealth in the pooled data, controlling for baseline status.
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