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Examining the impact of cohabitation on fertility amongst South Africans: an analysis of the National Income Dynamics study data.

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Conducted studies on marriage patterns in South Africa have shown a clear trend towards decreasing proportions of married women and an increase in age at first marriage. Despite marriage being one of the proximate determinants of fertility, the role of these nuptiality changes on the country’s decreasing fertility levels has not been adequately explored. Using data from the National Income Dynamics Survey, wave 3 this paper fills this research gap by examining the relationship between cohabitation and fertility trends among South Africans. The aims and objectives of this study are: 1. To establish and compare fertility rates in South Africa using STATA to measure the Age-Specific Fertility Rate, Age-Specific Marital Fertility Rate, Total Fertility Rate, Total Marital Fertility Rate and Children Ever Born to get the fertility differences amongst married and cohabiting couples. Also use stata commands to analyse the National Income Dynamics Survey data, wave 3 with statistics regarding fertility rate by married and cohabiting couples. 2. To highlight the different socio-economic factors associated with fertility differences among cohabiting and married couples in South Africa. 3. To explore the change in marriage trends and unions The decision to focus on South Africa as a study area is because research has shown that more South Africans, especially women are choosing to remain single/ never- married and those that do get married, tend to get married later in life as compared to 50 years ago. Data analysis shows that as age increases, the number of Children Ever Born (CEB) increases meaning that possibly older women are still having children in South Africa. Singulate Mean Age At Marriage (SMAM) is lower for the age group 50-54, meaning that in South Africa most individuals who are single are younger than 50. Although South Africans spend most of their younger years single, their fertility rates show the opposite and they are high especially for the individuals that have secondary schooling. The cohabitation rates are also highest amongst this group. The data analysis also shows that the White population tends to cohabit before other races but eventually ends up getting married, unlike African who cohabit later but end up never getting married.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.