Planning for Old Age in Peru: Count on Kin or Court the State?




Peru, elderly, state pensions, social reproduction, reciprocity, poor


Reciprocity among kin is central to Peruvian livelihoods, including into old age. Potentially affecting such family support, since 2011 Peru has offered a non-contributory cash transfer called Pensión 65 for seniors living in poverty. Past negative experiences of state assistance, the limited sum, uncertainty about eligibility rules, and surveillance of recipients are weighed against the regularly paid income. This case study provides insight into how Allpachiqueños strategize about livelihood across generations. It shows that, when children have prospects, parents will jeopardize their access to Pensión 65 (for example, by co-signing loans), as they prioritize material reciprocity. In contrast, in families with the fewest resources, parents spare their children from supporting them economically and do all they can to ensure eligibility by foregoing their assistance and withdrawing from active work. This forced retirement reflects their understanding of the state’s rules of the fund and is at odds with local practice. This research addresses the recent trend for countries of the Global South to offer cash transfers to older individuals by examining the implications of the terms of eligibility.

Author Biography

Susan Vincent, St. Francis Xavier University

Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology


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