Living Arrangements and Wealth Inequality among Older Persons in Sub-Saharan Africa

Zachary Zimmer, University of California, San Francisco
Suparna Das, University of Utah

Demographic realities mean skip-generation households are common and increasing in sub-Saharan Africa. We test how this household type fares in comparison to four other types. Skip-generation older person households are hypothesized to do particularly poorly in countries with high AIDS mortality. Data come from recent Demographic and Health Surveys. Material well-being is operationalized using a durable wealth score (DWS). Results indicate older person only households have the lowest average DWS followed by skip-generation. Households containing adult children are best off. Tests that descriptively connect material well-being of skip-generation households across countries fail to confirm a robust link between DWS and level of AIDS mortality. Older persons may benefit materially when a grandchild moves in following an AIDS death in the family by increased support of other family members or support from grandchildren themselves. Older person households with absent adult children are at a disadvantage regardless of the reason for absence.

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Presented in Session 44: Living Arrangements and the Elderly in Developing Countries