Caring and contributing: the role of older women in multigenerational households in the HIV/AIDS era

Catherine Ogunmefun, University of the Witwatersrand
Enid Schatz, University of Colorado at Boulder

This project explores the coping strategies of households in rural South Africa, where HIV/AIDS morbidity and mortality are having profound effects on household resources. The paper focuses specifically on older women’s pensions playing a potentially crucial role in multi-generational households both during crises (e.g. HIV/AIDS morbidity and mortality) and for day-to-day subsistence. The project conducted repeated semi-structured interviews with 60 women between the ages of 60-75. Half of the respondents are South African born, and thus eligible for the South African non-contributory pension; the other half are self-settled Mozambican refugees, the majority of whom are not eligible for the pension. The qualitative fieldwork took place in the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System fieldsite, which provides access to rich annual longitudinal quantitative data on all area households. By combining the data sources, the project produces a rich picture of the importance of older women and their pensions to households.

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Presented in Session 53: The socio-economic impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic