Perceptions of Retirement Savings: Through the Lens of Black amaXhosa Women in South Africa

Master Thesis


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Much research has been performed on the quantitative amount of formal savings held by various racial and gender groups. Such research has often concluded that Black women are the least prepared for retirement. Therefore, a narrative of scarcity has been perpetuated without fully understanding the underlying reason “why”. These traditional accounts erase and reduce social phenomenon to simplistic representations without recognizing the vast complexities of retirement for Black amaXhosa women in South Africa. This research aims to address this gap by providing first-hand accounts of why Black amaXhosa women believe they are the least prepared for retirement, as well as the alternative ways in which Black amaXhosa women save. This research uses open-ended, face-to-face interviews to collect data. In analysing the interviews, the researcher used Thematic Analysis and the Theories of Intersectionality and Socialization to interpret and analyse the interview transcripts. The researcher specifically focused on the use of inductive, semantic analyzation. All interview participants understood the importance of having retirement savings and either have or had some form of retirement savings. However, low savings were often due to income covering the cost of living, the emergence of unexpected events, and Black Tax. Other themes that emerged are the distrust in the formal financial sector, lower levels of accumulated wealth, and the financial responsibility of motherhood. All participants, in some way, supplemented their savings through the use of informal savings. This research is the first of its kind as it aims to create a “conversation” around retirement savings. It offers an introduction into “why” Black women could be seen by previously reviewed literature to save less for retirement, as well as to identify the alternative ways in which Black amaXhosa women prepare themselves for retirement. This “why” can assist further research and policymakers to better understand the complexity with regard to saving for retirement.