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ERIC Number: EJ725145
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Nov
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0010-4086
Childbearing and Schooling: New Evidence from South Africa
Madhavan, Sangeetha; Thomas, Kevin J. A.
Comparative Education Review, v49 n4 p452 Nov 2005
The importance of the authors' research can be summarized in several ways. First, it contributes to an ongoing discussion about the relative importance of childbearing in determining a girl's life chances, particularly in societies undergoing major transitions. Second, the twin issues of adolescent fertility and educational attainment feature prominently in national-level public health agendas focused on youth. This is particularly apparent in South Africa, where the well-being of youth has been given high priority in various sectors. Ten years into democracy, South Africa offers an ideal context in which to examine transitions to adulthood amid a climate of great optimism, fueled by increased educational and employment opportunities but also tempered by high unemployment rates and continuing poverty. Third, their research suggests new possibilities for intervention work in both family planning and schooling. They begin with an analysis of data from the 10 percent sample of the 1996 South African population census. For all respondents in this random sample, the 1996 census data provide individual-level demographic characteristics such as age, marital status, place of residence, and educational characteristics, including highest level of completed schooling and current enrollment status. The data also contain information on children ever born (by "children ever born," they mean the number of live births a mother has had regardless of whether each child born is still alive), the mother's age at first birth, and the number of live births she had during the previous 12 months. Descriptive characteristics of the eligible girls used in this analysis are presented in a table. Figures are given for the entire sample and for the subsamples of those who have ever had and those who have never had a live birth. The twin issues of adolescent fertility and girls' educational attainment in Africa have generated substantial interest in both the academic literature and policy discussion. There is a consensus that childbearing impedes educational success for girls. Their findings suggest that a balance is important between adequate care-giving capacity and socioeconomic stability. Both are crucial to enrollment and sustained progress of girls in general, particularly in the case of young mothers. Finally, it is important to underscore the enormous value being placed on education in South Africa. This value is evident from their finding that a lower age at first birth is associated with higher odds of being currently enrolled.
University of Chicago Press, Journals Division, P.O. Box 37005, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-753-3347; Web site:; e-mail:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa