Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood in South Africa

Stud Fam Plann. 2001 Jun;32(2):147-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4465.2001.00147.x.


South Africa's total fertility rate is estimated to be one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than three births per woman nationally and declining. At the same time, adolescent childbearing levels remain high: More than 30 percent of 19-year-old girls are reported to have given birth at least once. Evidence from focus-group discussions conducted in urban and rural areas in South Africa with young black women and men, and with the parents of teenage mothers, is used to consider the experience of early parenthood, including the role of paternity, education, work opportunities, and subsequent fertility. In South Africa, in contrast to many other settings, teenage mothers may return to school once they have given birth, and this opportunity is strongly related to a long delay before the birth of a second child. Educated girls also tend to bring more bridewealth, which may encourage parents to support their daughters' schooling, and perhaps their return to school following childbirth. The support of the child, however, is often subject to paternal recognition and commitment, even though boys are unwilling to admit paternity because it jeopardizes their educational and employment opportunities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health* / ethnology
  • Black People
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / psychology
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / ethnology
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data
  • Men / psychology*
  • Parenting / ethnology
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / ethnology
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data
  • South Africa
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Women / psychology*