Absent Fathers and Their Children's Sexual and Reproductive Decisions in South Africa: Paternal Orphanhood versus "Abandonment"

Lloyd D. Grieger, Yale University

A large body of research links parental absence to negative sexual/reproductive outcomes such as early adolescent sexual debut, teen childbearing, non-marital fertility, and inconsistent contraceptive use. However, few studies focus specifically on fathers, and even fewer examine whether the effects of paternal orphanhood are more severe than “abandonment.” I use retrospective and prospective data from four waves of the Cape Area Panel Study, a longitudinal study that followed youth aged 14-22 in Cape Town, South Africa, to examine the extent to which paternal “abandonment” and orphanhood are associated with negative reproductive outcomes in children throughout the period of young adulthood. Given the large variation in reasons for father absence (including the large number of deceased fathers) and the panel structure of the data, these findings contribute significantly to research on the role of the father in children’s lives with regard to sexual and reproductive behavior.

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Presented in Session 100: Adolescent Fertility and Reproductive Health in Africa