The Big Divide
Huge disparities in the living conditions of black and white infants are highlighted in a report released by Statistics South Africa last week. The document, titled “South Africa's Young Children: Their Parents and Home Environment 2012”, was tabled in Pretoria by Statistician General Pali Lehohla. It deals with children under the age of five.
There are 5.3 million in South Africa, representing about 10 percent of the population. Of this total, 85 percent are described as “black African”. Released almost 20 years after South Africa's first fully-democratic elections, it warns of the “continuous racial differences” in the country among the very young, and the consequences this holds for the future.
“The results highlighted that children from the black African and the coloured population groups were perpetually disadvantaged when compared to those from the Indian/Asian and the white population,” says the report.
It offers, as examples, access by various households with young children to fresh water and sanitation.
“For example, the majority of households with young children from the white (93.7 percent) and Indian/Asian (97 percent) population groups had piped water inside the house/dwelling, whereas 77.9 percent and only 27.1 percent of children from the coloured and black populations groups respectively had access to the same source.”
On sanitation, the report finds that only 40.2 percent of black infants lived in a home with a flush toilet, a convenience enjoyed by almost all their white and Indian counterparts, and almost 90 percent of young coloured children.
On access to health care for under five-year-olds, the report shows only 11.7 percent of white infants lived in households that used public hospitals or clinics.
“The majority of young children from the black African (82.8 percent) and coloured (66 percent) population groups lived in households that used public hospitals or clinics, whereas the majority of those from the Indian/Asian and white population groups mainly used private doctors (55.4 percent and 65.2 percent respectively).”
The report's authors call for more targeted policies to correct the country's racial disparities.
“These conditions illustrate that the legacy of apartheid is still entrenched in the South African society, and thus policies targeted at correcting racial disparities remain a key priority for realising the rights of children.”
The document also examines the mothers and fathers of South Africa's young children, including their marital status by population group.
It finds that while the majority of Indian and white mothers are legally married (85 percent and 82.7 percent respectively), less than half of coloured mothers (44.6 percent) and about a quarter of black mothers (24.9 percent) are legally married.
Lehohla also tabled Stats SA's “2012 Live Births Report” last week.
He said this found that fewer births were registered last year compared to the year before (2011), implying a 2.8 percent decline in the country's birth rate.
Late registrations of births had also declined over the period. Of the about 1.1 million birth registrations in 2012, a total of 241 677 were late registrations, done more than 30 days after the child's birth.
According to the report, of the country's 5.3 million under five-year-olds, 1.1 million are one or younger; 2.1 million are aged one or two; and, a further 2.1 million are three or four. – SAPA
The State of Families
A new report on the living circumstances of young children shows that, while 93 percent of young children have both biological parents still living, only 36 percent of them live with both biological parents.
Most young children (43 percent) live with only their biological mother, two percent live with their biological father only, and 19 percent do not live with either of their biological parents.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released a report which presents statistics on young children, aged 0-4 years, based on information collected from the General Household Survey (GHS) conducted in 2012.
It highlights the profile of young children and gives information on the characteristics of their biological parents and the conditions of their home environment.
There are 5.3 million children under the age of five in South Africa, making up 10 percent of the population. The majority of young children in Gauteng (97 percent) live in urban areas.
This contrasts strongly with Limpopo, where only 10 percent of young children live in urban areas.
Information on biological parents is restricted to those parents living with their children, as information was not collected on parents who do not live in the same household.
No information was collected as to why biological parents were not living with their children or for parents that had died. No information was collected as to why biological parents that were alive were not living with their young children
There were 3 653 955 mothers and 1 677 696 fathers living in the same household as their biological children. Fathers living with their biological children tended to be older than mothers living with their biological children.
There were 70 percent of mothers who fell into the age group 20-34, while the majority of fathers (just over 50 percent) were aged between 30 and 39.
There were 48.4 percent of mothers living with their biological children who were never married, as opposed to only 4.8 percent of fathers.
Almost 85 percent of fathers living with their biological children were married or living together as married.
About 52.4 percent of mothers living with their young biological children were economically active (employed or unemployed and looking for work). In this group, 65.3 percent were employed.
Amongst fathers, 90.7 percent were economically active. In this group, 90.4 percent were employed.
The results of the survey showed wide differences in the main sources of income depending on the living arrangements of young children.
In the majority of households (72 percent) where both parents lived with the biological child, salaries/wages/commission was the main source of income. This decreased to 53.9 percent for households with only the biological father present.
In households where only the mother was present, most households (39.7 percent) had grants as the main source of income, followed closely by salaries/wages/commission at 37.2 percent.
Almost 50 percent of households which had neither parent present stated that the main source of household income was grants.
Questions were asked to determine access to food. The results showed that 25 percent of households with young children experienced limitations with food in the 12 months preceding the survey.
This report provides quality statistics that will assist policy makers to make decisions based on evidence to ensure that the children of this country are afforded the opportunity to develop into the best people they can be. – Creamer Media