Trends and levels of childlessness among educated women in South Africa

Lesego Masebe, Mmatlala Ramosebudi


In South Africa, fertility declined from 7 children per woman in the 1960’s to 2.6 children per woman in 2011. The daunting situation is that in 2011 whites and Indian/Asian fertility rates were below replacement level. Therefore, using South African censuses 2001 and 2011, the paper seeks to establish trends and levels of childlessness among educated women. The proportions of childlessness were calculated from women who reported that they never had children.  Childlessness increased by 10% point between women aged 25-34. Black African women had the highest proportions of childlessness. The prevalence of childlessness was high among women with post higher degree and employed. The highest proportions of childlessness were evident among women who were never married. Within occupation variable, professionals and managers were childless. The majority of childless women were residing in Gauteng and Western Cape. Across all the socio-economic variables, the levels of childlessness increased substantially from 2001 to 2011


Fertility; Childlessness; Educated women; Socio-economic characteristics; South Africa

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