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Young children and fathers: patterns and determinants of social and residential arrangements in rural South Africa

Victoria Hosegood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Ruth Bland, University of Kwazulu-Natal
Marie-Louise Newell, University of Kwazulu-Natal and African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

We present findings from a longitudinal study of childrens’ social and residential arrangements from birth to five years in rural South Africa. We focus particularly on patterns and determinants of biological father involvement. The study sample includes all children registered at birth as members of households in the Africa Centre Demographic Information System 2000-2003 (N=6,610). The social and residential dispersal of biological fathers and young children is high. Around 60% of children were not reported to belong to the same household as their biological fathers at any time during follow-up. Using logistic regression models we identify factors associated with father social and residential involvement. Contributing new empirical data about young children and their fathers in South Africa, the paper also highlights the limitations of household-based data collection for the study of father involvement in highly dispersed families.

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Presented in Session 77: Men's involvement in children's lives