CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

In South Africa, elderly people benefit from an extensive program of old age pensions, a rare form of public solidarity in southern countries. Rather than crowding each other out, public and private transfers are combined in a variety of ways. Studies show that public transfers are directly or indirectly redistributed by private transfers: older pensioners receive a little less money from their family and provide financial help to their often multigenerational household. Social and political logics also link the different forms of solidarity. Elderly people’s solidarity towards other generations is motivated both by altruistic norms and by principles of reciprocity. Through pension sharing pensioners expect to obtain services from their beneficiaries that are not provided by the state. Pension sharing is encouraged by public policies, since it is seen as a way of improving living conditions for all generations, strengthening family bonds and compensating for the withdrawal of the state. Elderly women are the main actors of this system.


  • South Africa
  • elderly people
  • intergenerational solidarity
  • public transfers
  • public policy
  • family
  • gender
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