Family help for the elderly in Africa: a comparative assessment

  • Margaret Peil Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham, UK


Many people argue that 'modernization' will deprive the African elderly of their former roles and support. This paper focusses on the positive side. It argues that help has always been limited by resources and that 'development' will limit resources even further. Many elderly Africans receive support from children and grandchildren- as do large numbers of elderly people in industrialized countries; a few elderly Africans are entirely dependent on this help. Most get less help than they need, and some are abandoned, for various reasons. But this has always been the case. Although there were many problems, the majority of children in the studies reported here gave financial, material or physical help to their parents, depending on their circumstances. While governments develop welfare programmes, it is useful to measure the variability of help received, of various types, by men and women, urban and rural residents, in different regions and countries. Such information can help governments and NGOs to target those who are most in need.


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