Post-retirement survival strategies of low-income pensioners in Ghana
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Table of Contents
Literature Review.. 10
2.1. Retirement in Ghana. 10
2.2. Gender differences in pension benefits. 11
2.3. Work transitions in retirement. 13
2.4. Ageing in the Ghanaian context. 14
2.5. Gendered experiences in Ageing. 18
2.6. Decline in Material Family Support for Older People in Ghana. 19
2.7. Economic, Social and health challenges. 20
Data and methods. 23
3.1. Research design and data collection techniques. 23
3.2. Sampling method. 24
3.2.1. Definition of group (low-income pensioners). 25
3.3. Comparative case study. 26
3.4. Data analysis method. 26
3.5. Ethical consideration. 27
3.6. Limitations of study. 27
Analysis of the Post retirement survival strategies of low-income pensioners In Ghana: Is there a gender difference?. 29
4.1. Generation and potential sources of alternative income: Material needs, financial arrangements 31
4.1.1. Nature/Type of income and networks mobilized (professional, family and friends. 31
4.1.2. Family structure and help: children, spouse or other family members. 34
4.2. Preparation and plans for retirement. 39
4.2.1. Long-term retirement plans or spontaneous adaptation to retirement life. 39
4.3. Uses of alternative income: medications, transportation, utility bills. 49
4.4. Support networks aside alternative income: social and emotional support. 51
4.4.1. Mobilization of professional networks to retain social prestige and social activities. 51
4.4.2. The role of digitalization in emotional support networks. 52
4.4.3. Religion: Church groups or associations, church activities and benevolence. 54
Pensions and social security are some of the important sources of income for most people in retirement. Normally, those who receive income from pensions have registered or subscribed to such pension schemes. Some of these pension schemes do not provide retirees with sufficient income hence some of them are not able to sufficiently live on these income (Quartey, Kunawotor & Danquah, 2016). In some cases, these benefits can influence the consumption decisions of most people in retirement (Kaniki, 2007). Most pensioners are expected to rely on these benefits throughout their lifetime. However, most retirees are able to generate and plan for alternative income and some of these channels are usually different from the one’s that they were engaged in during active service. Whiles in active service, individuals received income from their employees. When individuals transition to retirement, these sources of income in most cases change. Pension schemes and designs in general differ in both developed and developing countries. According to Quartey, Kunawotor and Danquah (2016) a greater proportion of elderly people living in developing countries especially in Africa do not receive any regular income since these pensions are instituted mainly for civil servants or people working in the formal sector. Even though most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have in place pension schemes for elderly people, most of these institutional pension schemes are ineffective because a greater percentage of the population works in the informal sector. According to the International Labour Organization (2018) 85.8 percent of workers in Africa work in the informal sector.
In Ghana, approximately 80 percent of people work in the informal sector (Osei-Boateng & Ampratwum, 2011). This means that most people are not covered by pension benefits. This form of system can mainly affect one of Ghana’s millennium development goal (MDG) of alleviating poverty in the country (Quartey, Kunawotor & Danquah, 2016). The SSNIT annual report (2016) explains that pensioners have increased from 119,323 in 2012 to 174,164 in 2016. However, a good number of these pensioners continue to receive very little from the pension funds. According to Entsie (2019) the highest paid pensioner in Ghana receives an amount of GH¢55,000 ($10,711.80) monthly whiles the lowest paid pensioner receives GH¢300 ($58.43) every month. This clearly shows the pension disparity between high and low income earners in Ghana. According to the SSNIT report (2016) the contribution to the scheme is based on the rates stipulated by the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766). This constitutes 5.5% of a worker’s contribution and 13% of employers’ contribution of a worker’s pay. The accumulation of this amount helps to determine the amount an individual will receive during retirement. This is normally the average of the best 36 months or 3 years’ salary of a pensioner (SSNIT, 2016). The fundamental problem with this contributory system in Ghana is that it favours high income earners because the pension benefits are calculated based on the amount an individual contributed so the higher the contribution, the more an individual will receive during retirement. Issues of insufficient pension funds are repeatedly affecting pensioners. Ideally, most pensioners do not know how this system works and many people in Ghana experience different levels of shock when they retire. This does not only show the pension disparity between high and low income earners in Ghana but also the rising inequalities between birth cohorts (Sloane, Hurst & Black, 2019).
This qualitative study compares the post retirement survival strategies of male and female pensioners within the low-income bracket in Ghana. In more detail, it will explore the alternative income avenues that public sector pensioners, both men and women resort to in retirement aside the Social Security and National Investment Trust (SSNIT) benefits. Men and women usually have different paths when it comes to careers, responsibilities, pension coverage, cultural norms and social expectations (O'Rand & Landerman, 1984; ILO, 2019). In most cases, men and women do not experience pre-retirement or retirement in the same manner. Many women face some challenges in their careers and this is based on the family responsibilities that they have and this can greatly affect their labour participation (O'Rand & Landerman, 1984). In most cases, they are left to build careers or a livelihood from the informal sector which can have an effect on their entitlements to pension benefits. Certain cultural norms can affect the labour participation of women especially those expected to take up some caregiving roles in the family. According to Arza (2015) women on the average are paid less than their male counterparts due to their working conditions and the various positions that they occupy in the field or industry. All these dynamics affect how both men and women are able to plan and generate alternative income in retirement. In Ghana, there are various avenues that pensioners are able to generate retirement income.
According to Aninakwah-Bonsu (2016) pensioners in Ghana are not satisfied with the pension system because the amount they receive as pension benefits are very small. There was evidence that in cases where females still live with their husbands, they have a comparative advantage because men are the breadwinners of the family, especially in the Ghanaian culture so they are expected to provide. However, in cases where these women are either divorced or widowed, they are faced with so many challenges and responsibilities. In general, some of the challenges that pensioners face in Ghana are the inability to pay for monthly bills, pay fees for their children, cater for utility and also take proper care of the family as a whole. In such cases, they resort to people for help especially other family members. Quartey et al (2016) proclaim that pensioners are actually able to get help from their family members but usually those from the immediate family, normally brothers and sisters.
Agyemang (2014) explains in her study in the Northern, Ashanti and Central parts of Ghana that aside these family members, some pensioners also resort to banks for loans. However, there are various problems with the acquisition of loans from the banks and many pensioners struggle before they are given these loans. Irrespective of all these income avenues, some pensioners also try to return to the labour market or mobilize professional networks. Lawoe (2010) explains that most public sector workers, especially teachers try to return to the field of teaching but they normally do this on part-time basis. Other common activities among pensioners was farming, trading activities, transport business and vocational enterprises such as carpentry and dressmaking.
The institutional gaps in the pension system and other social factors implies that women will fair less in retirement based on their position in society and their access to resources. However, the literature suggests that pensioners are likely to plan and generate income from various sources. Whiles men are likely to focus on the world of labour, women are likely to focus on the domestic and affective spheres. In view of this, this research seeks to address the questions: What are the alternative income strategies chosen by low income pensioners in Ghana? Do the retirement strategies differ among men and women, if yes, how? What social and emotional support networks do pensioners mobilize to minimize loneliness.
This study will examine and compare how pensioners in Ghana, both men and women are able to generate alternative income during retirement. For the first dimension, I analyze particular resources that are mobilized (both material and human) such as family, friendship and professional networks and which particular network is/are easily mobilized among genders. The study will also identify if help has changed from a more extended family system (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) to the immediate family (spouse and children) or other family members (brothers and sisters). A second dimension that I analyze is whether pensioners have adopted a long-term strategy for retirement or whether they are adapting more spontaneously to their circumstances after retirement. Subsequently, I analyze the social situation of pensioners beyond material needs in order to examine their emotional support networks and whether they face loneliness.
The study contributes to literature on post-retirement income in Ghana by comparing how men and women respond to retirement. The research focuses more on socioeconomic factors rather than sociocultural factors as determinants for alternative income. This will help to understand if there is an existence or not of gender disparities in retirement practices.
In the next section, I review the literature on retirement and pensions especially in the Ghanaian context and how the transition differs between men and women. This is because, I sought to understand how men and women are able to mobilize networks to generate alternative income. Subsequently, I link the literature to my analysis in order to examine whether or not women's retirement strategies and experiences are indeed more family-oriented and that of men are more oriented towards the labour market.
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