Masculinity, Money, and the Postponement of Parenthood in Nigeria

Daniel Smith, Brown University

In southeastern Nigeria, several interconnected processes of social change are combining to delay parenthood. Most of the literature examining the postponement of parenthood has paid primary attention to women. To address this gap, this paper foregrounds the changing social landscape of masculinity as a significant context within which to situate these demographic changes. At the core of Nigerian men’s perceptions, decisions, and behaviors with regard to delaying fatherhood is a fundamental contradiction. The contradiction is that while the postponement of parenthood seems to be associated historically with positive social and economic indicators, when Nigerian men articulate their rationales for delaying fatherhood (and marriage) they commonly describe feelings of uncertainty connected to a sense of struggle and hardship. This paper connects men’s anxieties about—and delays embarking on—marriage and parenthood to their experiences of economic uncertainty, and specifically to the perceived need for money as the foundation for successful reproduction.

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  Presented in Session 114. Masculinities in Africa: Discourses Regarding Men Sexualities, Health and wellbeing In A Male-Controlled Society