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You are here: Home / Coming Up / Seminar Series: Single Motherhood and Child Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Life Course Perspective

Seminar Series: Single Motherhood and Child Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Life Course Perspective

Shelley Clark, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, McGill University
When Feb 18, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Single motherhood in sub-Saharan Africa has received surprisingly little attention, although it is common and has critical implications for children's well-being. Using survival analysis techniques, we estimate the probability of becoming a single mother over women's life course and investigate the relationship between single motherhood and child mortality in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. While a mere 5% of women in Ethiopia become a single mother by having a premarital birth, nearly 35% of women in Liberia will become single mothers before first marriage. An even higher percentage of women, up to 50%, become single mothers after their marriage ended in divorce or widowhood. In six countries, children born before marriage were significantly more likely to die before the age of five (OR: 1.36 in Nigeria to 2.61 in Zimbabwe) compared to children whose parents were married. In nine countries, having a formerly married mother was associated with a significantly higher risk of dying (OR: 1.29 in Zambia to 1.75 in Kenya) than children with married parents. Children of divorced women typically had the poorest outcomes. These results highlight the vulnerability of children of single mothers and suggest that polices aimed at supporting single mothers could help to further reduce child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.

About the Speaker

Shelley Clark

Dr. Shelley Clark is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and the founding Director of the McGill Centre on Population Dynamics. Her research focuses on gender, health, and life course transitions in sub-Saharan Africa. Much of her research examines how adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa make key transitions to adulthood in the midst of an on-going HIV / AIDS epidemic.  In particular, her work has examined on how the transition into marriage shapes the risks of HIV / AIDS among young women in sub-Saharan Africa. She is currently exploring the implications of single motherhood on women's poverty and children's health over the life course. Her findings have been published in leading journals, such as Demography, Social Forces, and Journal of Marriage and Family, and presented at international organizations, including the World Bank, WHO, UNFPA / UNICEF, and the Population Council.

Visit Professor Clark's webpage

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