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Title: Livelihood strategies in old age : older people and poverty in urban Bolivia
Author: Skinner, E. J.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis aims to develop greater understanding of older people's livelihood strategies in Latin America. It asks whether their contributions to household and family are reciprocated with care and support. The thesis analyses the informal livelihood strategies used by poor older people in urban Bolivia in relation to the household, community, labour market and wider political environment. Drawing on a combination of the sustainable livelihoods and life course perspectives, the thesis examines the multiple survival strategies used by older people and analyses the factors affecting their access to different assets. The primary data come from a year's fieldwork in three contrasting urban zones of La Paz, where 600 household surveys, 16 focus groups and more than 40 semi-structured interviews were conducted. The thesis highlights the heterogeneity of older people in La Paz and the broad range of strategies used to maintain their livelihoods in the absence of state support. It shows that family support is not the reliable source of security that it is generally thought to be and that older people often continue to support their descendents rather than vice versa, in cash or in kind. It stresses the importance of continuing reciprocity: few older people can rely on receiving support from others unless they too continue to contribute. Adult children may have to continue relying on their parents because of the high cost of housing and scarce employment opportunities. The rise in single-parent families and increasing labour migration mean that older people may also be responsible for raising their grandchildren. After a lifetime of balancing family and work obligations, women may be better than men at combining different strategies in old age, and they have stronger social networks. Men's lifelong focus on income generation makes it harder for them to devise other survival strategies in old age.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available