What is Kin Care? Changes in Intergenerational Obligations in Elder Care in Ghana


Mencoff Hall 205

Cati Coe, Canada Research Chair in Migration and Care, Carleton University

Abstract: The assumption by many African governments is that kin will take care of the growing aging populations in their countries, which is promoted as an orthodoxy in state and public discourse. But what does kin care actually mean? And what do people do when kin care fails, in the face of lack of state forms of support for aging people? This talk examines how kin care has changed over time in Ghana, despite the orthodoxy which makes kin care seem so stable and static. I explore the processes by which paid care by non-kin is considered to be a form of kin care, such that paid care is rendered invisible. This case study of aging in Ghana is used as an example to examine how people are adapting to the demographic shifts of longer life spans and aging societies through new practices despite continuities in discourses.

Bio: Cati Coe is an anthropologist and Canada Research Chair in Migration and Care in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. She is interested in intergenerational care, kinship, and migration. Her most recent book is Changes in Care: Aging, Migration, and Social Class in West Africa (Rutgers University Press, 2021). Her new project concerns aging migrants’ navigation of transnational social protection in their pursuit of wellbeing across the life course, as a window onto global inequalities in aging.

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