Non-marital fertility in South Africa: An analysis of trends and socioeconomic factors

Reesha Kara, Rhodes University

In 2016, 15% of the world’s 240 million births were to never-married mothers. This global increase in non-marital fertility is characterized by variations across countries and regions. Levels of non-marital fertility in South Africa are far higher than the global average as data from 2014 showed that 70% of births in the country were to never-married mothers. Using data from the National Income Dynamics Study, a trend analysis revealed a significant increase (of 18.43%) in the prevalence of non-marital fertility in South Africa between 2008 and 2017. Further analysis showed that non-marital fertility is influenced by economic factors as never-married mothers are more likely to belong to low-income households, female-headed households or have low-paying jobs. This study contributes empirically to understanding the dynamics of non-marital fertility in a middle-income country and underscores the importance of additional research on the topic as levels of non-marital fertility increase within an African context.

Keywords: Demographic and social surveys, Fertility and childbirth, Family demography, Economic analysis

See paper.

  Presented in Session 179. Fertility Transition and Prospects