|dc.description.abstract||In the post-apartheid period, little research has focused on the economic welfare of South
African mothers. In particular there are few studies that compare the economic status of
mothers by marital status. Many children in South Africa live in households without
fathers (Posel and Devey 2006), which indicates that there is a high incidence of single
motherhood in South Africa. Previous research has shown that South African women are
more likely to be poor than their male counterparts and female-headed households, on
average, are poorer than male-headed households (Posel and Rogan 2009a; Armstrong et
al. 2008; Hoogeveen and Özler 2006; Budlender 2005; Rose and Charlton 2002; Woolard
and Leibbrandt 1999). These results suggest that single mothers and their children would
be more likely to be worse off than families that include men.
Historically, insufficient data on motherhood made it difficult to identify a national
sample of mothers; however recent household surveys have made it easier to do so.
Using the General Household Survey (GHS) 2006 I am able to identify all women aged
from 19 to 65 who are co-resident with at least one of their children aged 18 or younger.
A disadvantage of this sample is that it excludes not co-resident mothers who have left
their household of origin – often in pursuit of better work opportunities. Consequently
the sample underestimates the extent of motherhood as well as the labour force
participation rate of African single mothers in particular.
Despite this limitation, I am able to gain useful insights into the economic welfare of
South African mothers. By undertaking a descriptive and poverty analysis I show that on
average, African and White single co-resident mothers have an inferior economic status
compared to African and White married co-resident mothers respectively. I also show
that disparities in income exist between the two races with White mothers, on average,
having greater access to resources compared to African mothers.
A benefit of the GHS 2006 is that it includes individual information on the receipt of
social grant income. Thus I am able to quantify the impact of public transfers, as well as
other categories of income, on poverty alleviation. I show that African single co-resident
mothers, in particular, are highly dependent on grants. The study also explores the Child
Support Grant (CSG) specifically and notes that the grant is limited in coverage and
value. Furthermore, I highlight that the only other formal method for single mothers to
obtain financial assistance, is via the private maintenance system, which is fraught with
inefficiencies and often the costs of engaging with the system far outweigh the benefits.
This dissertation therefore highlights the plight of South African single co-resident
mothers and concludes by suggesting methods for improving their economic status.||en