Unpaid care work : a comparison between older adults in urban and rural areas of South Africa
The time older adults spend on unpaid care work in urban and rural areas of South Africa has been neglected in research, along with their time use more widely. This is happening when the effects of HIV/Aids as well as non-communicable diseases have a detrimental impact on the provision of care work within the family and society. Moreover, the demands of the burden of care work on older adults can lead to persistent health issues in old age. The care work that older adults take on is their contribution to the family and society in general. This research aims to determine the scope and nature of older adults’ unpaid care work. Comparisons were made with unpaid care work for the household and its members, for non-household members and for the community. Secondary analysis was performed on data collected by Statistics South Africa during the South African Time Use Survey (TUS) in 2010. This was done from an age and gendered perspective to determine what unpaid care entails and who does it. As this work is generally associated with women’s activities, unpaid general work activities obtained from the South African TUS 2010 were also included to determine the role of older men and the time they devote to unpaid care work. This study is quantitative in nature and encompasses a cross-sectional research design. The sample used consisted of 4 387 participants aged ≥60 years and living in South Africa. Data from the South African TUS 2010 were obtained from an individual questionnaire that collected participants’ demographic data, a diary in which they had to record their activities every 30 minutes for a period of 24 hours, and follow-up interviews with survey officers. The main finding of this study concluded that older adults reported the most time spent on unpaid care work for the household and its members. Geographical location of participants did not significantly differ between urban and rural areas in South Africa. Furthermore, younger older adults (60-69 years) performed most of the unpaid care work of all age cohorts in this study. The comparison of older adults’ time spent on unpaid care work and unpaid work yielded no significant differences. Women spent time on unpaid care work activities while older men spent time on unpaid work in general. This has led to the conclusion that while feminists are advocating equal participation from men and women in unpaid care work, fresh thought should be given to how men care and that unpaid work might be their way of caring. Interestingly, while geographical area did not yield significant differences in older adults’ time spent on unpaid care work, this study found that significant differences occurred at provincial, metropolitan and non-metropolitan levels in South Africa.
- Humanities