Household Decision-Making Between Older Adult Women and Men in the Western Cape of South Africa

Charlotte Chorn Dunham, Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study we use the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS, wave 4) to estimate the influences on sole decision-making (measured as being the only person who makes family decisions rather than making them jointly) in married or partnered older adult households in South Africa. We performed a logistic regression analysis predicting older adults’ major and minor decision-making by gender, controlling for household structure, economic resources, health and race. We found that control of economic resources influences an older adult’s decision-making, including earning money outside the household, controlling a pension and owning books. These decision-making patterns were more prevalent for Black and Coloured men and women than for Whites. Race was not a significant predictor of sole decision-making, although speaking Afrikaans did predict sole decision-making for Coloured women. Having a partner, having a parent in the household and household size all predicted sole decision-making type (major and minor), although the exact nature of those relationships varied by gender and race. The extended nature of many South African households and cultural differences about the role of extended family on decision patterns may have been previously overlooked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-268
Number of pages16
JournalGender Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Cape Area Panel Study
  • Decision-making
  • Older adults
  • Patriarchy
  • South Africa


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