Gender, ageing and carework in East and Southern Africa: A review

Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Schatz E, Seeley J

An estimated 58 million persons aged 60-plus live in sub-Saharan Africa; by 2050 that number will rise sharply to 215 million. Older Africans traditionally get care in their old age from the middle generation. But in East and Southern Africa, HIV has hollowed out that generation, leaving many older persons to provide care for their children's children without someone to care for him or herself in old age. Simultaneously, the burden of disease among older persons is changing in this region. The result is a growing care deficit. This article examines the existing literature on care for and by older persons in this region, highlighting understudied aspects of older persons' experiences of ageing and care - including the positive impacts of carework, variation in the region and the role of resilience and pensions. We advance a conceptual framework of gendered identities - for both men and women - and intergenerational social exchange to help focus and understand the complex interdependent relationships around carework, which are paramount in addressing the needs of older persons in the current care deficit in this region, and the Global South more generally.

Global Public Health
MRC/UVRI Authors: