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Pensions and Nutritional Outcomes

Health & Psychology Tanzania

delivery worker picking up a package from a local african market trader. | image by wirestock on Freepik

Policy Context

Africa’s aging population and shifting dietary patterns towards more refined products suggest a worrying trend for malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to higher rates of obesity from these dietary changes, high levels of poverty have simultaneously led to significant levels of undernutrition since many cannot afford to purchase nutrient-dense food. These trends place sub-Saharan Africa’s elderly population particularly at risk for health issues, with malnutrition reaching levels of nearly 30% or higher. Social protection programs for the elderly, including universal old-age pension systems, are targeted to address poverty, health, and hunger. This study fills a policy gap by examining the impact of the Zanzibar Universal Pension Scheme (ZUPS), a non-contributory pension scheme available to all Zanzibar residents aged 70 and over, on the nutritional outcomes of the elderly and their households.

Study Design

The study will apply a mixed-methods approach to household-level panel data from the Tanzania Living Standard Measurement Survey to estimate how food demand and nutritional outcomes change based on income. Subsequently, the research team will conduct focus groups with beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the old age pension scheme in Zanzibar and interview government officials working directly to administer the pension scheme. Researchers will assess(i) the effect of the pension scheme on the nutrient intake of elders and their households; (ii) the effect of pension size on the bargaining power of elders within the household; and (iii) changes in household nutritional outcomes under alternative pension policies such as changing the minimum age eligibility or changing the pension size.

Results and Policy Lessons:

Results forthcoming.

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