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Women's Marriage Behavior Following a Premarital Birth in Sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Emily Smith-Greenaway, and Shelley Clark
Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, 80(1): 256-270; DOI:
Topic(s): Marriage
Reproductive health
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: AUG 2017
Abstract: This study examines the relationship between premarital childbearing and the timing of women's entry into their first marriage in sub-Saharan Africa. The study shows that African women who have a premarital birth generally experience later transitions to marriage than do their childless peers. Although the birth of a child precipitates a quicker transition to marriage initially, unmarried mothers, on average, marry at older ages than their childless peers and remain single for between 2 and 14?years. Evidence from a subsample of countries confirms that the time between having a child and first marriage has lengthened slightly in some countries; however, this reflects mainly the overall trend toward later marriage, rather than a further bifurcation of the marital trajectories of mothers versus childless women. The study raises policy concerns about the welfare of Africa's single mothers and their children.