Changes in headship patterns and household organization in South Africa in the 1990s in a time of HIV/AIDS and other macro-social transformations

Giovanna Merli, University of Wisconsin at Madison

The rapid spread of HIV during the 1990s in South Africa has coincided with the collapse of the apartheid system. In addition to these two landmark events, forces of modernization have continued to erode traditional family relations, institutions and ideologies. Any of these macrosocial phenomena must have had some visible influence on family structure and household headship patterns. This paper contributes to our knowledge of the changing landscape of South African families and the causal connections between observable patterns of family structure and social transformations by providing a description of changes in household organization and headship patterns in the 1990s and by identifying the mechanisms responsible for observed changes in gender and age patterns of headship. These goals will be accomplished with the analysis of three consecutive data sources spanning from 1991 to 2001: the last census of apartheid South Africa conducted in 1991, and the 1996 and 2001 censuses.

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Presented in Session 142: The demographic and socio-economic consequences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic