Cohabitation in Botswana: An Alternative or a Prelude

Zitha Mokomane


Given the recent increase in the prevalence of cohabiting unions in Botswana, this paper speculates on the role this type of union plays in contemporary Botswana family system. The analysis is based on the combination of qualitative and quantitative data from the 2001 Cohabitation Survey and the 1996 Botswana Family Health Survey respectively. The overall results reveal that cohabitation differs from marriage in terms of socio-legal status and the reproductive behaviour of women in cohabiting unions. The paper further presents evidence that, of the three common interpretations of cohabitation - an alternative to marriage, a temporary phase before marriage and an alternative to being single - cohabitation in Botswana can be viewed as a temporary phase before marriage. Against this evidence, the paper concludes that while the increasing prevalence of cohabitation does not threaten the institution of marriage in Botswana, it results in delays in timing of marriage. 

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ISSN 2308-7854 (online); ISSN 0850-5780 (print)

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