Year: 2018

Working Paper Number: 413

Unit: FaSRU

Author: Kirsty Button


Through social policy and the cash grant system, and in the context of pervasive poverty and unemployment, older women have been positioned as key financial providers in contemporary South African low-income, multigenerational households. This article draws on the findings a qualitative study about intergenerational relationships of care in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, in which semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen female pension grant recipients and some of their co-resident adult children. In discussing the research findings, the article focuses on the female pensioners’ experiences of providing ‘financial care’ in their intergenerational relationships. Although the pension grant enabled the women to better care for their dependent household members, this caregiving involved negotiation and conflict. Negotiations around the provision of resources for caregiving reflected unequal power relationships with the households and added to the emotional and financial vulnerabilities the female pensioners experienced in their capacities as caregivers. It is in this context that the article questions the state’s role in the care process and how it has contributed to the gendered and generational burden of care in intergenerational relationships. It is argued that instead of rendering invisible traditional divisions of carework and the power relationships which shape them, the state should be more attentive and responsive to the experiences of caregivers and contexts in which caregiving takes place.

Publication file:

WP 413-Button