Determinants of Female Family Headship in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dionisia Maffioli, Università degli Studi di Bari

The levels of female family headship are generally high and perhaps increasing in sub-Saharan Africa, but urban/rural and ethnic differentials are extremely marked. This research explores the interaction of “modernization” and cultural background in determining this situation. The subjacent hypotheses are that rural/urban contrast reflects the ongoing social changes, and ethnicity is a proxy for values and norms governing kinship relationships. DHS family data sets provide good quality information for ten countries and their principal ethnic groups. Deeper insights are dedicated to Ethiopia, Ghana and Namibia. A method of recursive partitioning (classification tree) was used to explore the data structure. Then, logistic regression models were fitted to data, showing different patterns of interaction between ethnicity and residence in different contexts of rural-urban migration, and of nuptiality and marital disruption. The contrasting action of economic conditions and educational level suggests interesting interpretations.

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Presented in Poster Session 7