Continuity and change in reproductive attitudes of teenage women, their mothers, and maternal grandmothers in South Africa
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During the past couple of decades, as South Africa has undergone a political and social transformation, conditions for reproduction and reproductive health have changed. Against the backdrop of these societal changes, the objectives of this cross-sectional study were to trace continuity and change in reproductive attitudes on an individual level, through three generations of women linked to each other by kin in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. This study is defined within the psychological theoretical framework called Values of Children, and the specific aims for this study were to explore the three generations of women's preferred timing of their first childbirth, their desired number of children and sex of the offspring, and the women's deeper motivations behind the wish for children. Participants (n = 516) were chosen using a multi-stage cluster sampling procedure, and face-to-face structured interviews were conducted. Factor analysis indicated that the women have two main motivations to have children, namely Social/Emotional values of children and Traditional/Utilitarian values of children. However, the motivations to bear children seemed to be less emphasised by the teenage women as compared to their mothers and maternal grandmothers. Likewise, the data revealed a change in reproductive attitudes in that teenage women wished to have fewer children later in their lives than the older generations. Stronger daughter preferences than son preferences were presented in one-child scenarios in all generations, yet the strongest emphasis on a daughter was found in the young generation. In the light of the huge social changes in the country, such as the explosion of HIV infections and the abolishment of the apartheid regime including its racial family planning programmes, we expected more dramatic changes in reproductive attitudes in three generations of women than those which we found.