No pregnancy for profit here
One of the most critised social support programmes in South Africa is the Child Support Grant (CSG). Persistent rumours since its introduction have claimed that women, particularly adolescent women, are falling pregnant more often in order to claim a higher monthly amount from the government.
But recent research conducted by the University of Witwaterstrand refutes this common myth, instead suggesting that women who receive these grants after their first pregnancy will actually wait longer before second pregnancy than the women who do not.
CSGs were first introduced in 1998, initially aimed at supporting very young children, but can now be claimed for children up until the age of 18. In 2015, the monthly amount per child was R330.
The research was conducted by Dr Molly Rosenberg, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, in an area of rural Mpumalanga between the years 1993 0 2003. Amongst the 4 845 female primary caregivers included in the study, half received the grant after the birth of their first child and half did not.
The data gathered from her research was unexpected: the women who did receive the grants waited, on average, 30 months longer than women who did not receive the grant for a second pregnancy.
Rosenberg and her colleagues believe that this could be because of a number of reasons. Firstly, the grant is used to gain access to health care, including family planning, which reduces the chance of an unwanted pregnancy. Secondly, while R330 is enough money to divert the worst effects of poverty, it is not a large enough financial incentive to cause women to have multiple children. And thirdly, the grant gives women a small measure of economic independence from men, meaning that they feel less pressured into sexual acts or less susceptible to sexual assault.