Social Protection of the Elderly in Tanzania: Current Status and Future Possibilities
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Based on United Nations demographic estimates, the number of Tanzanians over 60 years of age is expected to almost triple between 2020 and 2050. As a consequence, the government is likely to face escalating pressure to design and implement effective social protection measures to minimise poverty and deprivation among the elderly. To inform this process, this study begins by analysing the current status of living arrangements and material well-being of Tanzanians over 60 years of age, using data from the 2007 Household Budget Survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics and the Views of the People 2007 survey conducted by Research on Poverty Alleviation. The study then assesses the affordability of a universal pension for all persons over age 60 or 65, set at the food poverty line. Finally, it explores implications of the introduction of an old age pension on the socio-economic and political attitudes and behaviours of Tanzanians. The data show that in 2007 about three-fifths of older Tanzanians lived in traditional extended family settings, one-fifth were responsible for children or young adults, and one-fifth lived alone or with their spouse only. The HBS also found that one-third of all elderly Tanzanians lived below the basic needs poverty line, and the VoP found that 14% ‘always/often’ didn’t have enough to eat. Older women outside Dar es Salaam were particularly vulnerable to food deprivation. On the question of affordability, the evidence indicates that a universal old age pension would be a fiscally feasible pillar of social protection; the pension’s introduction would lift over three million Tanzanians out of poverty, half of whom would be children under 18 years. Although the effects of the introduction of an old age pension on individual attitudes and behaviours are more difficult to estimate quantitatively than the direct distributional impact of pension income on household well-being, these effects may well be crucially important for economic development. Being able to look forward to a pension in old age might, for example, positively influence risk-taking behaviour, the time preferences of the young, fertility decisions and the rate of personal savings. Having dependable pension income as part of the overall income in an extended family household may also improve the capacity of households to afford school fees or to take greater calculated risks in cropping or business decisions, with positive impacts for long-term development. Moreover, if, via the old age pension, the government is seen to provide clear benefits in which all citizens can expect to share, the political legitimacy of the state and the willingness of citizens to pay taxes may well be enhanced.
Osberg, Lars, and Thadeus Mboghoina. 2010. Social Protection of the Elderly in Tanzania: Current Status and Future Possibilities. Research on Poverty Alleviation, Special Issue:10/5