Elderly poverty in Cuba remains a significant concern as the country faces with economic challenges and limited resources. According to the World Bank, individuals aged 65 and above constituted 16% of Cuba’s population in 2021. Looking ahead, the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) projected in 2016 that by the year 2030, 29% of the Cuban population will be aged 60 and above, while only 16.1% will be under the age of 15. This article delves into the impact of meager pensions and economic struggles on the elderly population in Cuba, emphasizing the need for sustainable solutions to alleviate their financial hardships.
Caring for the Elderly Becomes an Important Daily Commitment for Cuban Families
Caring for the elderly has become a crucial daily commitment for Cuban families as the elderly population continues to grow. The Cuban government has responded by assigning caregiving responsibilities to the family unit while preserving cultural traditions. The care of older people has become an important daily commitment for Cuban families.
However, to avoid the care of the elderly becoming an overwhelming family burden, these families receive relevant thematic education and community support. Changes in the structure and functioning of the Cuban family have significantly affected the economic, physical and psychological well-being of older people. Moreover, as the generation of Cuban baby boomers born in the 1960s enters the aging stage in the next decade, the sudden increase in the number of older people will impact the existing mechanisms of family solidarity in Cuba.
In 2021, Cuba’s old age dependency ratio (percentage of working-age population) reached 23%, highlighting the growing importance of taking care of the elderly and addressing elderly poverty in Cuban society.
Insufficient Pension Rates
The issue of insufficient pension rates is one of the key challenges contributing to elderly poverty in Cuba. Retired individuals in the country often receive pensions that fall short of meeting basic living expenses, leaving many elderly individuals in a precarious financial situation.
As of the end of 2022, the Ministry of Finance and Prices reported that 367,887 individuals were receiving social welfare benefits and there were 1,821,000 pensioners in Cuba. The minimum pension, which varies depending on the economic sector, is set at 1,528 pesos, equivalent to less than $10 USD in today’s currency. This limited amount makes it extremely challenging for older adults to cover even basic living expenses, let alone address other financial needs and maintain a decent standard of living. The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights presented a report in 2022 showing that 20% of surveyed adults aged 65 and above were able to access the necessary medicines they require. Additionally, 18% of the elderly were occupying houses that could potentially collapse, highlighting the precarious living conditions that a significant portion of the elderly population in Cuba faces.
Efforts to Fight Elderly Poverty in Cuba
In the context of the aging population, the Integral Program on Healthy Ageing is a project that the European Union and the Municipal Government. The Cuban Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics, a nongovernmental organization in Cuba, coordinates it. It started in January 2018 and the main goal of this project is to enhance the overall quality of life and well-being of the elderly residents in the targeted municipality.
The Integral Program on Healthy Ageing, a project that the European Union and the Municipal Government funded, plays a crucial role. The Cuban Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics, a nongovernmental organization in Cuba, coordinates the project with the main goal of enhancing the overall quality of life and well-being of elderly residents in the targeted municipality. The project adopts an integrated care approach encompassing all environments where individuals grow older, necessitating coordinated efforts at the micro (clinical), meso (service delivery) and macro (system) levels.
Furthermore, the Community Care Program and the National Program for the Comprehensive Care of the Elderly have led to the establishment of Casas del adulto mayor (Houses of the Elderly). These daycare facilities serve as an integrated approach to address the intersection of health and social care for isolated elderly individuals. Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of Casas del Adulto mayor, with a growth rate of 37%. In 2005, there were 201 facilities and by 2016, this number had risen to 276.
While the challenge of elderly poverty in Cuba persists, ongoing initiatives demonstrate a dedication to creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for the elderly, with the ultimate goal of reducing poverty and enhancing their overall well-being.
– Yizhi Cao