That is the surprising outcome of a study from the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme, a unique collaboration between five UK Research Councils. South Africa and Brazil improved the average level of wellbeing of their elders between 2002 and 2008, due to a combination of economic growth and enlightened social policies.
The research explored the factors that influence wellbeing among the elderly populations of the two countries. Brazil and South Africa were chosen because of their far-reaching social policies, and for their being leaders in their respective regions, with innovative social policies addressing poverty and vulnerability, such as child and disability benefits, low interest loans for the elderly and non-contributory pension schemes.
A comparison between the new data and those from a 2002 research, it came clearly out wellbeing had improved and the majority of older people in the two countries felt satisfied or very satisfied with their lives. A majority of older people in each country also said they were satisfied with their relationships with other family members and with the respect they received from others.
The improvement in wellbeing was strongly influenced by economic performance and labour market conditions, but social policy also played a significant role. For low-income families, the pension income received by elderly people was essential to both their objective standard of living and their feeling that that life was getting better.