Policy implications of population ageing in West Africa


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

The purpose of this paper is to discuss trends in demographic ageing in West Africa and asks the question of what policy challenges are posed by the increasing presence of older persons in the subregion. We explore the unique dimensions of population ageing in the subregion, including its rural‐urban and gendered distributions, the occupational history of older persons, among others with the view to identifying the health, housing, and income security implications of ageing. The paper discovers and reviews what policy initiatives are being pursued in respect of older persons and suggests ways for their improvement.The paper draws on the existing literature on ageing and policy in both published and grey sources, including national and international policy documents. The discussion looks at policy responses in Ghana as a case example for the West African context. Policy information pertaining to Ghana is interpreted in light of the first author’s personal familiarity with the context as a national of that country. The age of adults in this context is hard to determine due to low birth registration. In this paper older persons are defined as those 60 plus in chronological years, the age of retirement in Ghana.It is established that older persons are concentrated in the rural areas of West Africa and a higher proportion of this demographic group is female. Further, the majority of older persons in West Africa has low formal literacy, is in the informal economy, and has no income security in old age. Yet, older persons continue to play the significant role of grandparenting. This examination of Ghana’s policy on ageing revealed inadequacies which need to be addressed. A key recommendation is a policy of universal non‐means‐tested old age security to provide basic income for persons aged 60 years and above.

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