Parent absenteeism and adolescent work in South Africa: An analysis of the levels and determinants of adolescents who work 10 or more hours a week

Nicole De Wet


Using data from the 2010 Survey of Activities of Young People (SAYP) this paper examines the relationship between parent absenteeism and adolescents’ (10-17 years old) participation in the labour force in SouthAfrica. Due to widespread poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS, adolescents are forced to forego schooling to seek employment. As Stanton et al. (2004) posited, parent absenteeism affects adolescents’ school completionrates and is associated with risky behaviour. This paper argues that parent absenteeism also forces adolescents to seek employment. Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression are used. Results show that 1.58 adolescents per 1,000 adolescent population work 10 or more hours a week. Further, 38.7% of adolescents have at least one parent absent from the household. Almost 2% of adolescents who have at least one parent absent are not enrolled in school. Finally, adolescents are less likely to work more than 10 hours a week if a mother is absent from the household (0.34), yet more likely to work more than 10 hours if a father is absent (1.21).


Adolescents; absent parents; employment; logistic regression; Survey of Activities of Young People; odds ratios

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

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