The paper explores the relationship between old age and chronic poverty
in the developing world, and the implications of this for achieving
global targets for poverty reduction.
For the majority of the world's older people, the meaning of old age is
not a chronological definition but the changing roles accompanying
physical change and reduced capacity to contribute or maintain a
livelihood. As a result of trends towards lower fertility and mortality,
populations are ageing. Whilst this demographic transition is global,
the growth in numbers and proportions of older people is most rapid in
the so-called \"developing\" countries. In the absence of policies,
infrastructure, services and information increasing numbers of people in
the south are ageing in poverty.
Available evidence reviewed in this paper highlights three key features
of chronic poverty in old age: it is strongly associated with reduced
framework of capacity, it is a condition from which few if any can be
expected to escape, and it is both caused by and perpetuates chronic
Opportunities to employ physical strength, often the most critical asset
of poor people, are reduced in old age. Widespread institutional and
social exclusion on the basis of age and gender represent formidable
barriers for the poorest older people in their efforts to achieve income
and social security, and crucially their health. The differential
impacts of age on women and men is only beginning to be understood.
Factors indicating high risk of chronic poverty for older women include
their greater longevity and likelihood of widowhood, inequitable
inheritance laws, and low access to education and health services, while
risk factors for men in some communities include abrupt loss of status
and low levels of support from children.
A review of the actions of government, civil society and international
agencies to address old age poverty indicates that ageing is still
distant from the overall social development agendas at all levels.
Current poverty reduction measures and proposals have not sufficiently
acknowledged the intergenerational dimension of poverty, nor has
attention been paid to older people's own survival strategies. The
paper argues that these are critical elements of any credible poverty
Chronic Poverty and Older Peoplein the Developing World, CPRC Working Paper No. 10, Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, ISBN 1-904049-09-5, 24 pp.
Chronic Poverty and Older People in the Developing World, CPRC Working Paper No. 10