Fertility and living arrangements in South Africa

Type Journal Article - Journal of Southern African Studies
Title Fertility and living arrangements in South Africa
Volume 27
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2001
Page numbers 207-223
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057070120049930
This paper investigates fertility among African women in South Africa. Variation in fertility levels is influenced by such factors as rural or urban residence, and level of education and household income. Differential fertility between women of different language groups is accounted for largely by underlying socio-economic factors. A further factor investigated by this paper is the impact of household structure on fertility in South Africa using the 1993 South Africa Living Standards and Development Study. Household structure is examinedfrom the perspective of women. We focus on whether women live with a husband, or with relatives of their parents’ generation, or with relatives of their own generation. The analysis concentrates on women aged twenty or over who are already mothers. For these women, we hypothesise that living arrangements mediate between their socio-economic and cultural characteristics and the number of children that they have borne. Living with
relatives from the previous generation is found to have a negligible net impact on the lifetime fertility of mothers. However, women who live with relatives from their own generation have borne about a ? fth fewer children than other women of the same age after controlling for the impact of household income, the woman’s schooling, regional differentials and urban–rural residence. Women from Nguni language groups have relatively large families. While this largely reflects economic and educational disadvantage, it is also conditional on their living arrangements. Unmarried and separated mothers have about a ?fth fewer children than married mothers of the same age. It is within the domestic context that the influence of other characteristics is transmuted into differences in numbers of children. Women’s living arrangements have become more diverse over the past thirty years in South Africa. They both modify and mediate the effects of other factors on fertility.

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