Is marriage a dying institution in South Africa?: exploring changes in marriage in the context of ilobolo payments

SOURCE: Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2011
TITLE AUTHOR(S): D.Posel, S.Rudwick, D.Casale
KEYWORDS: AFRICAN PEOPLE, CULTURAL RIGHTS, MARRIAGE
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9953

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Abstract

This article describes racial differences in marriage rates in post-apartheid South Africa and considers one possible reason for these differences related to the traditional practice of ilobolo among African families. We use nationally representative micro data to document very low and declining marriage rates among young Africans, large differences in marriage rates between Africans and whites, as well as rising rates of cohabitation, particularly among young African women and men. We then review the payment of bride wealth in this context, drawing on the historical literature as well as on popular media resources and quantitative data collected in the South African Social Attitudes Survey of 2005, to explore attitudes towards ilobolo as practised in contemporary African society.