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Poverty among the elderly in Sub-Saharan Africa and the role of social pensions


  • Nanak Kakwani
  • Kalanidhi Subbarao


Drawing on household survey information, this study delineates the poverty profile of the elderly in 15 low-income sub-Saharan African countries which include countries with a high and low prevalence of the HIV-AIDS pandemic. The study shows that the poverty situation of the elderly living with children and the elderly-headed households is much worse than the average in many countries. The impact of providing a social pension to the elderly on group-specific and national poverty head-count ratios and poverty gap ratios, and its fiscal implications, are analysed. Simulating various plausible eligibility criteria and benefit levels, the study concludes that while the case for an universal (untargeted) social pension is weak, substantial welfare gains can be obtained at a low cost with a social pension targeted to the poor among the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Nanak Kakwani & Kalanidhi Subbarao, 2007. "Poverty among the elderly in Sub-Saharan Africa and the role of social pensions," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(6), pages 987-1008.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:43:y:2007:i:6:p:987-1008
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380701466476

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    Cited by:

    1. Barrientos, Armando, 2012. "What is the Role of Social Pensions in Asia?," ADBI Working Papers 351, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    2. Rebekah Burroway & David Brady, 2010. "Targeting, Universalism and Single Mother Poverty: A Multi-level Analysis Across 18 Affluent Democracies," LIS Working papers 554, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. David Brady & Amie Bostic, 2014. "Paradoxes of social policy: Welfare transfers, relative poverty and redistribution preferences," LIS Working papers 624, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    4. Armando Barrientos, 2015. "Is There a Role for Social Pensions in Asia?," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 8-20, January.
    5. Jeremy Seekings, 2017. "‘Affordability’ and the political economy of social protection in contemporary Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 043, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. David Brady & Rebekah Burroway, 2012. "Targeting, Universalism, and Single-Mother Poverty: A Multilevel Analysis Across 18 Affluent Democracies," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(2), pages 719-746, May.
    7. Smith, W. James, 2011. "Tanzania - Poverty, growth, and public transfers : options for a national productive safety net program," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 91575, The World Bank.

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