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Consumption patterns and demand in households headed by the elderly: evidence from Brazil

Guilherme Fonseca Travassos (Department of Rural Economics, Federal University of Viçosa, Viçosa, Brazil)
Alexandre Bragança Coelho (Department of Rural Economics, Federal University of Viçosa, Viçosa, Brazil)
Mary Paula Arends-Kuenning (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 9 March 2021

Issue publication date: 4 May 2021




The main objective of this paper is to analyze patterns of consumption expenditure and the effects of income, prices and socioeconomic and demographic factors on demand among elderly- and young-adult-headed households in Brazil.


The authors estimated a Quadratic Almost Ideal Demand System demand system using the main household consumption good groups – food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care and other expenses – with data from three Brazilian Household Budget surveys.


The study results showed that elderly- and young-adult-headed households have different consumption patterns. The consumption of food, transportation and health care was more price-sensitive for households headed by the elderly, while higher income increases health care expenses in elderly-headed households to a greater extent than it does in younger-headed households.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations are due to the structure of the data used, such as the effects of seasonality and individualized demand analyses, and sample design in the estimates. However, due to the structure of the demand models, which when estimating by seemingly unrelated regressions do not allow to take into account the sample design.

Practical implications

As a consequence of population aging, the Brazilian economy will experience changes in the composition of household consumption, mainly for food, housing, transportation and health-care-related products.


This paper fulfills the lack of studies that analyze the consumption patterns and how demand varies across different types of elderly-headed households in a developing country, such as Brazil.



This research was funded by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico ‐ CNPq, Brazil (grantnumber 304763/2016-0) granted for Alexandre Bragança Coelho. The scholarship to Guilherme Fonseca Travassos was provided by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior ‐ CAPES, Brazil (Finance Code 001). The funding sources had no involvement in study design; neither in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; nor in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.


Travassos, G.F., Coelho, A.B. and Arends-Kuenning, M.P. (2021), "Consumption patterns and demand in households headed by the elderly: evidence from Brazil", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 657-674.



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