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Title: Do households recompose around the South African social pension?
Author: Mase, Julia
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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In this thesis, South African survey data (which was collected as part of a separate project on ageing and wellbeing), is analysed in order to explore old age social pension-handling and the extent to which social pensions influence decisions about living arrangements. The findings have implications for current policy debates in South Africa and beyond. A key argument against widening the South African social safety net to cover other groups which do not currently have access to grants (such as the unemployed), is based upon the premise that social grants foster dependency. Empirical evidence which suggests that family members move into the households of pensioners has been used to suggest that social grants cultivate a disincentive to work. A Regression Discontinuity design is used to consider the relationship between pensions and household composition around the threshold of age eligibility for a pension. The study contributes new empirical evidence which demonstrates that pensions are linked to changes in living arrangements just before and following the age of eligibility. The changes are not extensive and are restricted to particular age/gender groups. Nevertheless, effects are established, which is not surprising in light of the fact that pensions represent a regular, reliable and principal income source for many South Africans and that, based on new evidence contributed by this study, as well as previous studies, intra-household pension sharing appears to be a pervasive and persistent social norm. Overall, the analysis finds stronger evidence of pensions having either a ‘crowding out’ effect, or no effect at all, as opposed to a ‘crowding in’ effect, which casts doubt on dependency theories. Furthermore, the results suggest that pensions given to men may lead to fewer changes in household composition than pensions given to women. A key difference is that there was no evidence to suggest that for men, pensions are associated with systematic changes in the average number of prime working-age household members. This is generally consistent with findings from previous studies. A key theory regarding gender-based disparities in pension effects, relates to gender-based differences in the extent of intra-household pension sharing. In this study, there was no evidence produced to suggest that beneficiary gender influences the extent of intra-household pension sharing. The methodological challenges associated with the analysis of intra-household income-handling are acknowledged. However, with no evidence of differences in pension sharing behaviour observed, other potential explanations are considered. In particular, it is speculated that gender-based differences in child care provision by pensioners may influence the ability of parents, particularly mothers, to become labour migrants, and that gender-based disparities in life expectancy after pension eligibility age may be important factors.
Supervisor: Barrientos, Armando Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: South Africa ; social protection ; social pensions ; household composition