Demography of Single Parenthood in Africa: Patterns, Determinants and Consequences

  • Lorretta Favour Chizomam Ntoimo
  • Nyasha Mutanda


An increase in single parenting, especially among women, has become a global concern as existing evidence continues to show that single motherhood is associated with higher risks of poverty, reproduction of poverty and other negative outcomes that affect the well-being of single mothers and their children. Using pooled data obtained from the Demographic and Health Surveys in Africa, this study examined single parenthood in Africa, with a specific focus on its prevalence, determinants and consequences. The results show that over 22% of women aged 20–49 years in Africa were unmarried mothers. The significant factors associated with never-married parenthood among women in the region include current age, place of residence, highest level of education, occupation, household wealth quintile, birth order as firstborn child, experience of intimate partner violence by respondent’s mother, access to the media, community level of poverty and community level of female education. Notably, most of the determinants were similar across the subregions in their direction of association. Among all categories of single mothers in the region, the never married were the most vulnerable in all eight indicators of multidimensional deprivation. In conclusion, unmarried motherhood is obviously a common nuptiality pattern in contemporary Africa. With its diverse implications for well-being, family-oriented policies, programmes and studies have become more imperative.


Single parenthood Africa Marriage Family Multidimensional deprivation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorretta Favour Chizomam Ntoimo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nyasha Mutanda
    • 3
  1. 1.Demography and Population Studies Programme, Schools of Public Health and Social SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Demography and Social StatisticsFederal University Oye-EkitiOye-EkitiNigeria
  3. 3.Demography and Population Studies ProgrammeUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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