Aging without a Safety Net?: Generational Reciprocity Relationships and AIDS in Rural South Africa

Enid Schatz, University of Missouri at Columbia
Rebecca Livengood, University of Missouri at Columbia

Using qualitative interviews, we explore the impact of the AIDS epidemic on generational reciprocity relationships, from the perspective of young and old rural South Africans. Typically in developing countries, adult children provide monetary support and care to aging parents reciprocating for care given while growing up. This relationship may be changing in South Africa due to high unemployment rates among working aged adults, as well as the 21.5% national HIV-prevalence rate among 15-49 year-olds, leading to elderly parents frequently subsidizing the livelihoods of and/or outliving their adult children. In this paper we compare the ways in which older and younger respondents discuss notions of financial, emotional, and physical generational reciprocity in households where a recent AIDS death occurred and those without. Understanding current expectations of the older parent-adult child relationship will assist in developing policies that respond to the needs of adults, the elderly and their households.

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Presented in Poster Session 6