Social Pensions in Namibia and South Africa
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Non-contributory state pensions were introduced in South Africa in 1928. Eligibility was extended to White Namibians in the 1940s but to African Namibians only in 1973. Initially motivated by a complex combination of welfarist and political objectives, including the control of African urbanisation and 'winning hearts and minds' during South Africa's occupation of Namibia, the social pension has sustained millions of poor families for decades. This paper documents the history of the pension in both countries and presents evidence on its economic, demographic and social impacts in Namibia. Apart from providing non-covariate income against livelihood shocks such as drought, the social pension stimulates local trade, enhances the status of elderly family members, and contributes to the costs of primary and secondary education. While concerns have been raised about the fiscal sustainability of the social pension, its future as a social assistance programme depends mainly on political commitment.
CitationDevereux, S. (2001) Social Pensions in Namibia and South Africa, IDS Discussion Paper 379, Brighton: IDS
Is part of seriesIDS Discussion Paper;379
Rights holderInstitute of Development Studies
- IDS Research