Teenage Pregnancy and Racial Heterogeneity in South Africa

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Arcade Courtyard (Main Building)
Sibusiso MKWANANZI, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Previous research has explored the role played by individual-level factors on teenage pregnancy in the African context, including South Africa, extensively. This paper goes further to determine the effect of other factors beyond the individual-level, particularly racial heterogeneity amongst teenage females in South Africa using census data of 2001 and 2011. An adaptation of the social disorganisation theory and Blum’s multilevel and life course framework for early adolescent health and development led to the conceptual framework of teenage pregnancy tested in this study. It is hypothesised that teenage females from communities with greater levels of racial heterogeneity have a higher likelihood of pregnancy. Using multilevel logistic regression, the results indicate that in 2001 medium and high levels of racial heterogeneity were associated with pregnancy among teenagers (OR=0.92 and 0.87, respectively; p-value: 0.1). Likewise, in 2011 high community levels of racial heterogeneity were negatively and significantly associated with teenage pregnancy (0.81; p-value: <0.01). Therefore as community levels of heterogeneity increased, teenage females were less likely to be pregnant. This is contrary to previous international research and may be linked to the fact that heterogeneity in the country is seen more among higher socio-economic communities. Therefore, racially homogenous communities should be the priority areas for youth development and support initiatives to ensure that young people in such communities are given motivation and practical alternatives to the various pressures and challenges that lead young women into relationships and early childbearing.