Onset of Childbearing and Circular Migration in Rural South Africa

Gayatri Singh, Brown University
Benjamin D. Clark, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Jill Williams, University of Colorado at Boulder

This paper uses event history analysis to examine the association between onset of childbearing and circular labor migration using longitudinal data from a Demographic Surveillance Site in rural South Africa. Most studies examining the relationship between rural-urban migration and fertility in the developing countries have taken a linear view of migration as a state in which individuals ‘transition into’. In reality, labor migration in several countries of Africa entails transitions in and out of migration over an individual’s life course. In South Africa, women’s migration has remained particularly tenuous, with indelible marks of the apartheid era restrictive policies that curtailed their freedom of movement and labor force participation. Our findings challenge the assumptions of demographic theories that labor migration is likely to have a suppressive or delaying effect on fertility and make a case for understanding the socio-historical and structural context of fertility underlying the observable demographic characteristics.

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Presented in Session 73: Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Fertility in Africa