Union Dissolution - Divorce, Separation, and Widowhood in Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends, Patterns, and Determinants

  • Sunday A. Adedini
  • Oluwaseyi Dolapo Somefun
  • Clifford O. Odimegwu
  • Lorretta Favour Chizomam Ntoimo


Demographic and anthropological research has juxtaposed the private and public benefits of a healthy marital dyad vis-à-vis the private and public costs of marital dissolution. In particular, the private costs of marital dissolution largely affect the psychological, socioeconomic, emotional, and physical health and well-being of millions of children, young people, and adults. Moreover, literature has established the public costs of union dissolution, including the strain on the health-care system, increased welfare costs, and heightened crime. Addressing these and other real micro and social costs requires a robust evidence. However, despite the changes in family formations and dissolutions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there is scant of evidence on the dynamics of family formation and union dissolution in the region. Thus, this book chapter aims to provide evidence on union dissolution among women and its trends, patterns, and determinants in SSA. We analyzed the most recent demographic and health survey data of 16 SSA countries selected on the basis of availability of recent datasets and the need to adequately represent the four regional SSA blocs—East, Central, Southern, and West Africa. Diverse results were established, and there were enormous changes in the levels and patterns of marital dissolutions in SSA. Significant predictors of union dissolution included early marriage, urban residence, higher educational attainment, infertility, sterility, poverty, and being employed. The program and policy implications of these results are discussed.


Family Marital status Union dissolution Divorce Separation Widowhood Sub-Saharan Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sunday A. Adedini
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Oluwaseyi Dolapo Somefun
    • 2
  • Clifford O. Odimegwu
    • 4
  • Lorretta Favour Chizomam Ntoimo
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Medical Research Council: Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research UnitUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Demography and Population Studies Programme, Schools of Public Health and Social SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.School of Clinical MedicineUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  4. 4.Demography and Population StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  5. 5.Department of Demography and Social StatisticsFederal University Oye-EkitiOye-EkitiNigeria

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