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GENDER, AGING, AND THE EVOLVING ARAB PATRIARCHAL CONTRACT

Jennifer Olmsted

Feminist Economics, 2005, vol. 11, issue 2, 53-78

Abstract: Within Arab societies, a strong patriarchal contract has given elderly women a claim to economic resources, power within the household and community, and access to the public sphere. But in most communities, few alternatives to the patriarchal contract exist, placing women in a vulnerable situation. In the absence of strong state-sponsored social safety nets, elderly women without male kin or whose kin do not or cannot fulfill this contract are vulnerable to poverty and neglect. Using secondary data sources and previous studies, I describe the factors contributing to the patriarchal contract in the Arab world and the general conditions facing the elderly. Drawing on earlier field work, I then discuss in more detail how the Palestinian elderly are faring, particularly in light of recent Israeli policies. Finally, I argue that Arab cultures and economies are in transition, which raises questions about how future cohorts of elderly women will fare.

Keywords: Arab; elderly; gender; Palestinian; patriarchal contract (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2005
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DOI: 10.1080/13545700500115860

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