Living alone: exploring variations in single motherhood and child health in sub-Saharan Africa
Children in sub-Saharan Africa still shared the highest risk of dying before attaining age 5 among other countries in the world. While evidence of the association between two parent and single mother family structure has been documented, the role of variation in single motherhood factors is sparsely understudied. This study uses data from Demographic Health Survey (DHS) children recode data sets between 2013-2014 from Republic of Congo (Central Africa), Kenya (East Africa), Nigeria (West Africa) and Zanbia (Southern Africa) to investigate the relationship between different categories of single mothers (never in union, cohabiting, widowed, divorced and separated), social characteristics and child health. Issues relating to child health were measured by three separate outcome measures: height-for-age (stunting), up-take of medical treatment for childhood illness and infant mortality. Two specifications were fitted to analyze the effect of single mother characteristics on child health using binomial logistic regression. The result of unadjusted and adjusted models indicates that never married, cohabiting, are important correlates of child health. When adjusted for covariates, the effect of single motherhood on child health reduced in its magnitude. We conclude that child health differs in single motherhood according to varied social characteristics.
Keywords: Single mother, family structure, child health, infant mortality, social characteristics, variation