Only 36% of young children (Aged 0 – 4 years) live with both biological parents

A new report on the living circumstances of young children shows that, while 93% of young children have both biological parents still living, only 36% of them live with both biological parents. Most young children (43%) live with only their biological mother, 2% live with their biological father only, and 19% 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% of the population. The majority of young children in Gauteng (97%) live in urban areas. This contrasts strongly with Limpopo, where only 10% 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%% of mothers who fell into the age group 20 – 34, while the majority of fathers (just over 50%) were aged between 30 and 39.

There were 48,4% of mothers living with their biological children who were never married, as opposed to only 4,8% of fathers. Almost 85% of fathers living with their biological children were married or living together as married.

About 52,4% of mothers living with their young biological children were economically active (employed or unemployed and looking for work). In this group, 65,3% were employed. Amongst fathers, 90,7% were economically active. In this group, 90,4% 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%) where both parents lived with the biological child, salaries/wages/commission was the main source of income. This decreased to 53,9% for households with only the biological father present. In households where only the mother was present, most households (39,7%) had grants as the main source of income, followed closely by salaries/wages/commission at 37,2%. Almost 50% 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% 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.

Download the full publication here