Family demography in sub-saharan Africa: A systematic review of family research

  • Clifford O Odimegwu University of the Witwatersrand
  • Nicole De Wet University of the Witwatersrand
  • Sunday A Adedini Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
  • Nompumelelo Nzimande University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban
  • Sathiyasusuman Appunni University of the Western Cape
  • Tanyaradzwa Dube University of Johannesburg
Keywords: Africa, Family transition, Systematic review, Family research


Background Families in Africa have been undergoing changes recently. The objective of the study was to review published literature on the types, determinants and consequences of family changes in Africa and highlight research gaps in the area.Methods Sixty-nine journals from 1976 to date that were downloaded from databases such as Pub Med, JStor, Google Scholar and Science Direct, and were systematically reviewed.Results There is family transition in Africa due to socio-economic factors, religious, health and political changes. Seventy-two percent of the studies employed a quantitative approach, 20% qualitative and 7% mixed method approach. There are research gaps on topics such as same–sex marriages, cohabitation and father only households.Conclusion Families in Africa are responding to socio-economic and other changes that are happening around them. Family research is still under studied in Africa. There is need for more mixed method studies that explain the quantitative findings.

Author Biographies

Clifford O Odimegwu, University of the Witwatersrand
Demography and Population Studies Programme15
Nicole De Wet, University of the Witwatersrand
Demography and Population Studies Programme
Sunday A Adedini, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
Demography and Social Statistics Department
Nompumelelo Nzimande, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban
Population Studies and Development Studies Department
Sathiyasusuman Appunni, University of the Western Cape
Statistics and Populations Studies Programme
Tanyaradzwa Dube, University of Johannesburg
Centre for Social Development in Africa