The Impact of the Older Person’s Grant Expansion on Hypertension Among Older Men in Rural South Africa: Findings from the HAALSI cohort

Two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) live in low- and middle-income countries, and this figure is expected to rise as these populations are rapidly aging. Since evidence demonstrates links between socioeconomic status and slower rates of cognitive decline, protecting older adults' cognitive function in resource-limited countries that lack the infrastructure to cope with ADRD is crucial to reduce the burden it places on these populations and their health systems. While cash transfers are a promising intervention to promote healthy cognitive aging, factors such as household wealth and level of education often confound the ability to make causal inferences on the impact of cash transfers and cognitive function. This study uses a quasi-experimental design, leveraging an exogenous expansion to the Old Age Pension for men in South Africa, to approximate causal associations with cognitive function. We found evidence that there is a potential benefit of cash transfers at an earlier age for older individuals. As such, transfers such as pensions or other forms of direct basic income transfers may hold promise as potential interventions to promote healthy cognitive aging.
Cash transfers; Rural South Africa; cognitive function; natural experiment; pension.