The forces determining the share of nat'l income available to the aged, & the way in which that share is distributed among diff groups within the aged, are examined. Most of the evidence relates to GB & the US. It is argued that the inability to work, which results in the econ dependency of old age, should be viewed as a socially determined problem. The main sources of support for the aged in industrialized countries are reviewed & it is concluded that, despite increases in real income, & instit'al developments such as the growth of employers' private pension schemes, provision by the state remains all important. The danger of viewing the retired as a homogeneous group with similar econ problems is emphasized, both because of the general inequality of distribution of resources among them, & because of the special econ problems of single & widowed women. Finally, it is argued that no very sophisticated standards of poverty are required to describe large numbers of the old as poor in both GB & US today. AA.