Fathering across the Early Life Course in Urban South Africa

Sangeetha Madhavan, University of Maryland
Mark Gross, University of Maryland
Shane Norris, University of the Witwatersrand
Linda M. Richter, Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC)
Victoria Hosegood, University of Southampton

Fathers have been relatively neglected in family demography because of the lack of data but also due to assumptions about the marginal role of fathers in family processes. Research in the US over the past 10 years has focused on conceptual issues and the improvement of measures. Research in South Africa is still in early stages though fathers have increasingly become the focus of intervention efforts and academic scholarship. In this paper, we use data from the Birth to Twenty Cohort study in the greater Johannesburg area to accomplish two goals: 1) to describe father involvement using multiple dimensions at different developmental stages of children in the early life course and 2) to identify which characteristics of fathers, mothers and families are associated with high levels of father involvement at different developmental stages. Preliminary findings suggest that father involvement is high during the early years but decreases as children age.

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Presented in Session 2: Men’s Roles in Families and Relationships