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Fertility Timing and Women’s Economic Outcomes in South Africa

  • 2012-2015
  • Project
Leibbrandt, Murray, University of Cape Town; University of Michigan

Study: “Fertility Timing and Women’s Economic Outcomes in South Africa”
PI(s): Leibbrandt, Murray
Co-PI(s): Lam, David
Affiliation(s): University of Cape Town; University of Michigan
Institutional Partner(s): 2012 Joint RFP (PopDev)
Project Dates:
Start: 2012
End: 2015
Data Source(s): the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS), the Africa Centre Demographic Information System (ACDIS), and the National income Dynamics Study (NIDS)
Geographic Location(s): South Africa

This study uses unique longitudinal data to analyze the impact of fertility timing on women’s long-term economic outcomes in South Africa. The research look at the impacts of teen childbearing, the timing of first birth more generally, and the number of children on a wide range of long-run economic outcomes, including employment, earnings, migration, and poverty transitions.

This project takes advantage of rich longitudinal data from South Africa to analyze the relationship between fertility and women’s economic outcomes. It uses three longitudinal surveys that were used in previous research: the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS), the Africa Centre Demographic Information System (ACDIS), and the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS). These surveys combine birth history data with prospectively collected fertility data, providing information on age at first birth, number of children ever born, number of children surviving, and fertility timing and spacing.

The research also looks at access to health care in South Africa, as it is a particular concern given the centrality of poor access in perpetuating poverty and inequality. South Africa’s apartheid history leaves large racial disparities in access despite post-apartheid health policy to increase the number of health facilities, even in remote rural areas. However, even when health services are provided free of charge, monetary and time costs of travel to a local clinic may pose a significant barrier for vulnerable segments of the population, leading to overall poorer health.

Using new data from the first nationally representative panel survey in South Africa together with administrative geographic data from the Department of Health, this research investigates the role of distance to the nearest facility on patterns of health care utilization, and finds that many apartheid legacies remain in place. The poorest tend to reside furthest from the nearest clinic and an inability to bear travel costs constrains them to lower-quality health care facilities. Within this general picture, men and women have different patterns of health care utilization, with the reduction in utilization of health care associated with distance being larger for men than it is for women. Much has been done to redress disparities in South Africa since the end of apartheid, but progress is still needed to achieve equity in health care access.

Research Outputs:

Ardington, Cally, Menendez, Alicia & Mutevedzi, Tinofa. (2015). Early Childbearing, Human Capital Attainment, and Mortality Risk: Evidence from a Longitudinal Demographic Surveillance Area in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 62 (2), 281-317.

Ardington, Cally et al. (2015). Fertility and mother’s labour market behaviour: Evidence from the 2011 South African Census (SALDRU Working Paper 149).

Branson, Nicola, Ardington, Cally & Leibbrandt, Murray. (2015). Health Outcomes for Children Born to Teen Mothers in Cape Town, South Africa. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 63 (3), 589-616.

Branson, Nicola & Byker, Tanya. (2016). Causes and Consequences of Teen Childbearing: Evidence from a Reproductive Health Intervention in South Africa. (Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit Working Paper Number 166).

Branson, Nicola & Byker, Tanya. (2016). Youth friendly clinics make inroads in reducing unintended teen births in South Africa (SALDRU Policy Brief).

Finn, Arden, Leibbrandt, Murray & Oosthuizen, Morne. (2014). Poverty, inequality, and prices in post-apartheid South Africa (UNU-WIDER Working Paper 2014/127).

Lam, David & Leibbrandt, Murray. (2013). Global Demographic Trends and their Implications for Employment (Submitted to the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda).

Lam, David (2015) “The Demography of the Labor Force in Emerging Markets” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Reinhard Schiel, Murray Leibbrandt, and David Lam (2014) “Assessing the impact of social grants on inequality: A South African case study” WIDER Working Paper 160

Zoë McLaren, Cally Ardington, and Murray Leibbrandt (2013) “Distance as a barrier to health care access in South Africa” SALDRU Working Paper No. 97.

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