Is the child support grant associated with an increase in teenage fertility in South Africa?: evidence from national surveys and administrative data
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In this paper we outline the results of an analysis of teenage fertility trends and age patterns of Child Support Grant (CSG) beneficiaries to examine whether the CSG is exerting a perverse effect by increasing teen pregnancy. From the analysis we conclude that there is no relationship between teenage fertility and the CSG. We base this on three findings: Firstly, while teenage pregnancy rose rapidly during the 1980's, it had stabilized and even started to decline by the time the CSG was introduced
in 1998. Secondly, only 20 percent of teens who bear children are beneficiaries of the CSG. This is disproportionately low compared to their contribution to fertility. Thirdly, observed increases in youthful fertility have occurred across all social sectors, including amongst young people who would not qualify for the CSG on the means test. We note that debates about perverse effects of welfare, and proposals for punitive exclusion and withdrawal have occurred in other countries. The issue is one that attracts strong personal, moral and cultural opinions. From the data we have analysed, we conclude there are no grounds to believe that young South African girls are deliberately having children in order to access welfare benefits. However, the issue can only be settled conclusively by a specially designed study.