High unemployment leaving elderly in ‘precarious situation’‚ supporting others


High unemployment leaving elderly in ‘precarious situation’‚ supporting others

Katharine Child | 2017-03-29 15:01:37.0

A pensioner was captured whilst waiting on the queue for her turn to be paid her old age grants. File photo


South Africa’s elderly are bearing the brunt of the country’s unemployment problem‚ with more than half of all old people living in households where everyone was unemployed.

This and other data is contained in the “Social profile of Older Persons 2011- 2015” report released by the Statistician-General‚ Pali Lehohla on Wednesday.

The report describes the economic conditions of South Africans 60 years old and older.

In summary the report showed:

• Elderly people are living in conditions that are slightly better than in 2011 due to the widespread roll out of grants‚ with more having access to formal housing and water.

• About 3.1 million (70%) people out of the 4.5 million people over age 60 receive pension grants of R1500.

• “Women are likely to be widows for about ten years‚” said Lehohla “as they outlive men by about five years and marry five years earlier.”

• The elderly feel less safe walking alone at night‚ with only 31% of people above age 60 feeling safe walking at night down from 38% in 2011.

Lehohla said the elderly are doing better economically due to the wide roll out of grants.

“They are less poor due to far more receiving pension grants than in 2002”.

But he said the grants are used to support whole households‚ leaving the elderly in a “precarious situation.”

“The grants get absorbed by the able-bodied as more than half of all old people are living in households where everyone was unemployed.”

“When they are supposed to be enjoying their old age‚ they are worrying about their children who are 35 and 40 years old and they have to worry about their grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

We have a serious (unemployment) problem and we don’t have an answer‚” he said.

“The grants have to a large extent cushioned a severe problem with poverty and instability‚” Lehohla said.

About 80% in rural areas rely solely on grants‚ while 42% of people above 60 in urban areas have only their grants as income.

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