Legitimacy of Birth and Child Living Arrangement in Cameroon: How Does Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing Affect Household Structure?

Jacques Emina Be-Ofuriyua, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

The living arrangements are critical for children wellbeing. This study examines differences in the living arrangements of legitimate and out-of-wedlock children in Cameroon. Analyses are based on 6,666 children aged less than 15 years from the 1998 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey. Out-of-wedlock children represent 9% of this sample. Findings conclude that out-of-wedlock childbearing reinforces the dissociation between childbearing and childrearing especially for mothers in union and contributes to forming extended family-households. These findings could be explained by: i)the tendency to out-foster children from former unions to avoid conflicts in present unions; ii)the patrilineal character of African legal systems and traditions; and iii)the tendency of young unmarried mothers to rely on their parents or others relatives for socio-economic support in child rearing . More in-depth longitudinal research on the relationship between legitimacy of birth, children’s life course, and socioeconomic factors is urgently needed.

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Presented in Poster Session 5