The impact of pensions on health and wellbeing in rural South Africa: Does gender matter?
ABSTRACT Unique to Africa, a means-tested non-contributory pension is available to South Africans. In 2006, women over 60 and men over 65 were pension-eligible. To explore the effect of the pension for health and wellbeing indicators of rural South African men and women, we analyze data from the WHO-INDEPTH Study of Global Ageing and Adult Health Survey, carried out in the Agincourt sub-district by the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt) in 2006. Because pension receipt was not measured directly, our findings represent intent-to-treat (ITT) rather than treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) effects using age as an indicator for intent-to-treat. Overall, women report poorer wellbeing compared to men. However, women have a "honeymoon" period at ages 60-64, the first years of pension-eligibility, in which they report lower levels of worry and sadness, and higher overall happiness, life satisfaction, and quality of life as compared to younger and older women. For men, in contrast, reports of wellbeing worsen in the pre-pension years, followed by a similar but not as prominent pattern of favorable reports in the five years following pension-eligibility, and a decline in the next five-year period. Thus, while pensions continue to enhance financial wellbeing, our results suggest that their effect on social wellbeing may be gendered and transitory. Further research is needed to improve understanding of these dynamics.
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ABSTRACT: In 2007, a non-contributory pension program was launched in rural areas of Mexico. The program consisted in a non-conditional cash transfer of US$40 monthly to all older adults (OA) aged 70 and over. We evaluate the effect of the program on mental well-being of its beneficiaries. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used. For the quantitative component, we used the selection criteria established by the program (age and locality size) to form the Intervention (OA aged 70-74 residing in rural localities, <2500 inhabitants) and Control groups (OA aged 70-74, in localities with 2501-2700 inhabitants). Baseline data collection was conducted in 2007 where 5,465 OA were interviewed. The follow-up survey was conducted in 2008, and it was possible to interview 5,270 OA, with a response rate of 96%. A difference-in-difference linear probability model with individual fixed effect was used to estimate the impact of the program on mental well-being indicators. In 2009 a qualitative component was designed to explore possible causal pathways of such effect. After a year of exposure, the program had a significant effect on reduction of depressive symptoms (β = -0.06, CI95% -0.12; -0.01) and an increase in empowerment indicators: OA participated in important household decisions (β = 0.09, CI95% 0.03;0.15); and OA participated in household decisions pertaining to expenses (β = 0.11, CI95% 0.05;0.18). Qualitative analysis found a strong trend showing a reduction of sadness, and feeling of increasing empowerment. These results suggest that a non-conditional transfer in older ages have an impact beyond the economic sphere, impacting even the mental well-being. This effect could be explained because the pension produces feelings of safety and welfare. It is recommendable that governments should invest efforts towards universalizing the non-contributory pension programs in order to ensure a basic income for the elderly.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(11):e113085. · 3.53 Impact Factor