Pensions, Gender and Health: An Analysis of Pension Effects over Time in Rural South Africa

Jane Menken, University of Colorado at Boulder
Xavier Gómez-Olivé, University of the Witwatersrand
Margaret L. Ralston, University of Missouri, Columbia
Stephen Tollman, University of the Witwatersrand

A state-funded non-contributory pension plays an important role in poor and AIDS-affected rural South African households. Earlier cross-sectional analyses of two waves of the WHO-INDEPTH Study of Global Aging and Adult Health survey from Agincourt, South Africa show strong sex differences in older persons’ (50+) reports of health and wellbeing, as well as a gendered but temporary positive impact of pension receipt. Building on this work through longitudinal analyses of all respondents from 2006 and 2010, and within individuals interviewed in both waves, we assess whether longitudinal findings mirror the cross-sectional results. Indeed we find that for individuals, wellbeing improves in the five years following pension receipt, and decrease in the years following. Interestingly, the “pension bump” is evident for both men and women. This finding draws attention to the potential effects of a recent policy shift lowering men’s pension eligibility from 65 to 60.

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Presented in Session 12: Economic Impacts of Population Aging