Trends in the Social Stratification of Family Formation across Select Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kirsten Stoebenau, University of Maryland
Sangeetha Madhavan, University of Maryland
Emily Smith-Greenaway, University of Southern California

Across the global North, growing evidence suggests that uneven changes in family formation patterns are resulting in “diverging destinies” for future generations. More advantaged women have become more likely to delay marriage and childbearing, with more stable unions; while the disadvantaged have become more likely to experience early nonmarital childbearing and union instability. Given increasing levels of economic inequality in several African countries, and documented changes to union and family formation patterns, we ask: Is there evidence of increasing social stratification in family formation patterns in sub-Saharan Africa? We examine whether age at first birth, age at first marriage, nonmarital childbearing and rates of cohabitation are increasingly stratified by women’s educational attainment by drawing on data from 82 Demographic and Health surveys across 17 countries. Preliminary results support a diverging destiny model with respect to age of first birth and marriage; and mixed for nonmarital childbearing and cohabitation.

See paper.

  Presented in Session 15. "Diverging Destinies" In sub-Saharan Africa