Simple transfers, complex outcomes. The impacts of pensions on poor households in Brazil

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Unversity of East Anglia

Drawing on quantitative survey data covering 1006 households containg older people, and 20 in-depth interviews, this paper explores potential direct and indirect effects of simple cash transfers on households in poor rural and urban settings. Brazil has an extensive system of old age pensions. These have a significant impact on levels of poverty and vulnerability in recipient households. They facilitate access to essential healthcare items, which are seldom freely available through the state health system. The interviews reveal that pensions can have important effects on intra-household relations, although they were not generalizable nor easily captured by quantitative survey tools. There was also evidence that pensions reduced the propensity of older people to remain economically active. The paper demonstrates the complex effects of a relatively simple cash transfer which policy-makers need to take into account.

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Presented in Session 48: Cross cultural perspectives on resources and wellbeing in later life