Determinants of female family headship in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dionisia Maffioli, Università degli Studi di Bari
Giuseppe Gabrielli, Università di Bari
Piero Sacco, Università di Bari

The Sub-Saharan family systems are characterized by high and perhaps growing levels of female family headship: but urban/rural and ethnic differentials are extremely marked. This research explores the interaction of “modernization” and cultural background in determining this situation. The subjacent hypotheses are that the rural/urban contrast reflects social changes, and ethnicity is a proxy for values and norms governing kinship relationships. DHS family data sets provide good quality information for 25 countries and their principal ethnic groups. Deeper insights are dedicated to Ethiopia, Ghana and Namibia. A method of recursive partitioning was used to explore the data structure. Logistic regression models were then fitted to data, showing different patterns of interaction between ethnicity and residence in different contexts of rural-urban migration, and of nuptiality and marital disruption. The contrasting action of economic conditions and educational level suggests a juxtaposition between widespread situations of “force majeure” and, more rarely, free choices.

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Presented in Poster Session 3