Empowerment in an Unequal World: Examining the Relationship between Fertility and Women’s Economic Empowerment among African South Africans

Kirsten Stoebenau, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Donna L. Ansara, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Daniela Casale, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Terri-Ann Thompson, Johns Hopkins University

Fertility declined among African South Africans from an estimated TFR of 6.8 to 2.9 between 1960-2007. While a large body of research documents the gendered determinants of fertility decline, this paper considers its gendered consequences. Specifically, the study considers whether declines in fertility provided African women an opportunity to improve their human and economic capital. The multilevel analysis draws from the 1996 South African Census and the 2007 Community Survey to examine whether lagged municipal fertility levels predict younger women’s economic empowerment, including her schooling attainment, labor force participation, employment status and skilled work over time. These models test whether and to what extent household income and community assets modify these associations, with the expectation that the association between community-level fertility and woman’s economic empowerment strengthens over time and that poverty, operating through social exclusion, limits the benefits of fertility decline.

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Presented in Session 194: Female Empowerment: Measurement