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Receipt of emotional support among rural South African adults

  • Elyse A. Jennings (a1), Nolwazi Mkhwanazi (a2) and Lisa Berkman (a1) (a3)
Abstract

As the world undergoes rapid ageing, informal support from friends and relatives is becoming especially important among older adults in middle- and low-income countries, where formalised social protections may be limited. We use new data from a cohort of adults aged 40 and older in rural South Africa to explore how receipt of emotional support differs by gender and marital status. Our findings suggest that women are more likely to get emotional support than men and have more sources of support. Moreover, women are more likely to get emotional support from relatives, whereas men are more likely to get support from friends. In regard to marital status, married people are more likely to get emotional support and have more sources of support than people who are not married. However, separated/divorced and widowed people are more likely to get emotional support from relatives and have more sources of non-spousal support than married people. These findings point towards gaps in informal systems of support, and the particular importance of considering men and unmarried (especially never-married) people when designing policies to offer social protections to older populations.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email: ejennings@hsph.harvard.edu
References
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