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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa 6 Early Work, Training, and Preparation for Adulthood Formal education is the most visible and prestigious form of preparation for adulthood in contemporary Africa, but in most countries only a minority of teenage girls attend secondary school. Schooling is only one of a wide array of training possibilities that also comprise farm work, trade apprenticeships, domestic service, and ritual initiation. This chapter casts a wider net. It asks what most young women are engaged in as they approach maturity, and whether some of these forms of early work experience and training interact with fertility in ways that parallel the effects of formal schooling. It develops the unconventional point that the last chapter raises: Besides formal education, other forms of preparation for adult life play important roles in delaying fertility. Because we can find no direct evidence concerning the relationship of adolescent fertility to types of training other than formal education, we draw inferences by a combined analysis of two quite disparate kinds of data, national studies of economic patterns and microlevel qualitative studies. The analysis finds suggestions of a surprising coincidence in timing between the beginning of adult work and entry into childbearing. This finding points toward a broader understanding of how fertility intersects with preparation for work roles: The kinds of work opportunities that are available to women in the wider society determine specific kinds of training needs; these training needs in turn shape expectations of when parenthood should begin (see also Whiting and Whiting, 1991).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa ADOLESCENT LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION By their midteens, most girls in Africa are hard at work. For them, the period between childhood and adulthood is exceedingly short. According to International Labour Office (ILO) figures in Table 6-1, which shows the activity rates for boys and girls aged 10–14 and 15–19 for the four regions of Africa, youth of both sexes begin their work lives at a relatively early age. Young people in eastern Africa are most likely to be working; those in southern Africa are least likely. For all regions and in both age groups, the activity rate appears to be higher for boys than for girls, but the labor of girls is very likely underreported: Much of the domestic and farm work that women, and especially girls, perform is seen as something other than work. Even discounting these biases, the figures show that both sexes begin work at young ages in many countries. About 40 percent of boys aged 10–14 are working; as we saw earlier, about 60 percent are in school. (Some adolescents will be economically active and still attending school.) Among young men aged 15–19, 70 percent are in the labor force. By 20, the vast majority of men are in the labor force, and most women are in the labor force, or raising at least one child, or both. Within these generalizations, however, lies vast diversity. What Do Adolescents Do? For most older girls, training for adult roles blends indistinguishably with labor in the house, on the farm, or in the market. Some brief descriptions of the roles adolescents play in different sectors of the contemporary economy will provide a qualitative sense of their working conditions and begin to identify possible mutual influences between work and childbearing. School-going adolescents often participate in the roles described here; but often these roles are undertaken as full-time work/training. TABLE 6-1 Percentage of Population Economically Active in African Regions, by Age and Sex, 1980 Age Group 10–14 Age Group 15–19 Region Male Female Total Male Female Total Eastern Africa 46 37 41 75 62 68 Middle Africa 38 25 31 65 39 52 Western Africa 41 22 31 70 45 57 Southern Africa 4 2 3 39 29 34 SOURCE: International Labour Office (1986, 1990).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Farming The most thoroughly described roles of children in Africa are those of helpers in farm economies. Yet even in agricultural contexts, the link between work and the onset of fertility has drawn little attention. Recent work by Reynolds (1991) and Cheater (1984) illuminates some of these family dynamics for different areas of Zimbabwe. Reynolds' study of a Tonga community pays close attention to the work of children. Several children in her sample have fields of their own, actually pieces of a parent's plot, but contribute the grain to their mothers' brewing stock (Reynolds, 1991:30). On their parents' farms, ''[c]hildren's labour is brought in at peak labour periods. Some children work for some period of each working day on the fields. Most girls contribute to, or carry much of, the domestic labour load and child care during busy farming months.'' During the planting and weeding season, young people between 10 and 20 do about 18 percent of all the work, about the same amount as adult men (Reynolds, 1991:46–49), plus considerable child care duties to release their mothers for work in the field. Children under 10 are also child-minders. "In this labour economy, children are an adjustable input, with girls more adjustable than boys" (Reynolds, 1991:89). A girl's work for her mother allows sexual surveillance but does not delay marriage. Like many other matrilineal groups, the Tonga have limited polygyny and small age gaps at marriage between spouses. Though child betrothal was once common, couples often elope now (Reynolds, 1991). The parents usually acquiesce to elopement upon the payment of fines and bridewealth installments. Most of this wealth goes to the father, although he is not the primary beneficiary of the girl's labor. Because the mother has no formal sanctions to control the entry and exit of her daughters from her authority during their work lives, the high value of a daughter's work does not constitute an obstacle to her early marriage. Cheater studied Shona (patrilineal) commercial farming households in a freehold purchase area. There she writes, "[y]oung women (whether junior wives, daughters or daughters-in-law) together with adolescent children of both sexes, comprise the core of most family working units" (Cheater, 1984:59), supplemented by extensive use of hired labor. Here the principal farmer is male; he draws on his wives and daughters for farm labor and to take part in cooperative work groups in rotating labor agreements with his neighbors. Marriage, however, offers a male farmer greater and more permanent control over a female labor force than retaining his daughters at home. As long as he can replace a daughter's contributions by marrying additional wives himself, he has nothing to gain by according her an extra two or three years of premarital life. In societies with this kind of agricultural division of labor, polygyny offers greater and more permanent control over a female
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa labor force than does trying to retain highly productive daughters at home. As long as polygyny persists there will be downward pressure on the age at marriage. Wage Labor Adolescent employment outside of a kinship context is far from new. From the beginning of the colonial period, we have evidence of a voracious demand for labor. Young men and a surprising number of young women took intermittent work for wages. In Nigeria, in the early years of this century, Lord Lugard was desperate for carriers to bring in raw materials for construction and development (roads, bridges, administrative buildings; see Swindell, no date). In the Gold Coast, now Ghana, the transportation of the cocoa crop demanded vast numbers of porters to carry the crops to market and laborers to clear the land and tend the crop. Children were not strong enough or skilled enough for heavy labor in mining and public works construction, but an author in the Gold Coast Annual Report of the Medical Department of 1920 recounted being "forcibly struck with the number of young adults, principally girls, who were carrying loads of cocoa . . . ." (quoted in van Heer, 1982:500). In the 1930s, young men from the Northern Territories were recruited to work in the South at ages 14 or 15 (van Heer, 1982). Girls' labor was part of sharecropping agreements, and when large-scale rice cultivation developed in the 1950s, girls were employed for seasonal work as porters and in processing (van Heer, 1982). The employment of adolescents in more formal contractual situations was subjected to guidelines beginning in 1921. In that year the League of Nations convention set the minimum age for agricultural work at 14, and even then made such work permissible only outside school hours. No consistent mechanisms for enforcement existed, especially in areas of the world in which reliable verification of age was impossible. Where economic sectors competed for a limited labor force, pressures were brought to bear on all the aspects of work: the age guidelines, and the simple advisability and efficiency of youth carrying out heavy work. In South Africa in the 1920s, mining was expanding fast enough to draw off most of the able-bodied men over 18. An expanding agriculture therefore drew on the youth. Young men in their early and midteens who were too young to work in the mines became sugarcane cutters, one of the most physically demanding of all jobs, with some disastrous health implications (Beinart, 1991). Records of official investigations demonstrate that the use of youth labor in wage employment in the formal sector was quite widespread. In northern Rhodesia, "children were present in towns from the earliest colonial years and . . . many young boys worked, especially in private households, with or without pay"; "juveniles [those under 18] were em-
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa ployed as domestic servants in larger numbers than adult women from 1963 through 1966" (Hansen, 1990:226, 227). Several generations of men and women in different parts of Africa have worked for wages as teenagers and still do, as Guyer found in her studies of both large- and small-scale farming in western Nigeria (1991). Youth labor is in great demand because of its relative cheapness (see van Heer, 1982), low status, transience, and suitability to specific tasks such as light weeding, harvesting, surveillance, and customer recruitment in transport and small business. One might go so far as to argue that the proletariat in Africa in both urban and rural settings has been predominantly youthful, outside those contexts in which trade unions and state regulations have effectively restricted youth employment. The absence of visible enforcement of many age laws cannot be attributed simply to bureaucratic shortcomings. Children themselves often take economic action independently and resist adult constraints on their activities. Children in northern Ghana were relatively free at young ages to engage in agricultural wage labor and did not necessarily hand over their wages to their parents (Van Heer, 1982). "Boys [in South Africa] ran away from herding cattle ... without the permission of their parents ..." (Beinart, 1991:56). And many street children in Lomé who make their living from begging, stealing, and general hustling come from established families (Marguerat, 1990); many in some sense abandoned their families because of quarrels, rather than being abandoned by them. In Capetown, researchers have identified three different categories of working children: members of street gangs involved in illegal work, underage children working for their families, and "strollers," "children who have run away from home and school," explicitly to achieve "perceived freedom from overt control" in tyrannical sometimes disorganized, and usually impoverished families (Scharf et al., 1990:262, 272). Trade Apprenticeships Especially in economies with flourishing small or informal-sector businesses, apprenticeship is a lively sphere of constant innovation, keeping pace with a rapidly changing economy and preparing young people to participate in new fields of endeavor (King, 1977; Goody, 1989). To make a living in this highly competitive environment, young people venturing into new trades must learn technical skills as well as accounting skills in setting prices, assessing costs, and calculating profits. They also need less obvious but equally essential skills in cultivating working ties with laborers, suppliers, clients, loan agents, government trade regulators, and revenue agents. According to ethnographic studies in West Africa (see, for example, d'Azevedo, 1973; Dilley, 1989), young people are even said to need skills in dealing
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa with spirits that can either sabotage a business or ensure its success. Besides learning such skills, apprentices need to acquire capital: commerce and storage space, start-up tools, materials, and so on. Some accumulate capital over the long span of their apprenticeships, doing small jobs on the side for clients, sometimes unbeknownst to the master; others hope to acquire capital from their masters or families at the end of their training. King (1977, 1979, 1987, 1989, 1989–1990) has written extensively about the emergence of new skill systems and in particular the expansion of small or informal-sector businesses in Africa that use low-cost, equipment amid a scarcity of capital goods. According to King (1987:18), the philosophy of these businesses . . . is based upon a whole series of improvisations which compensate for not having the right tool, material or spare part. This can obviously mean utilizing second best solutions with second-hand materials, but the intention is to repair, and to 'make do' at minimum cost to the client. In such an economy, the range of endeavors a young person can pursue is extraordinarily diverse. Most common, especially in western Africa and especially for boys, are opportunities to learn a trade through apprenticeship. These practices were widespread even in the past. Among the Gola of Liberia, in the sphere of indigenous arts and crafts alone, were singing, dancing, musicianship, storytelling, oratory, legerdemain, acrobatics, blacksmithing, woodcarving, and weaving (d'Azevedo, 1973). Nigerian youths could take up blacksmithing, bronze casting, pottery making, wood carving, carpentry, leatherworking, goldsmithing, and weaving (Callaway, 1964). The scope of modern professional apprenticeships is much larger still. For Kenya, to list but a few, there are spray painting, blacksmithing, welding, shoemaking, tailoring, carpentry, driving, and TV repair; also the manufacture of tin lamps, bicycle carriers, charcoal braziers, water cans, kitchen utensils, measuring containers, auto spare parts, and rat traps (King, 1977). Even in the small towns of Nigeria, young men undertake apprenticeships in almost every conceivable occupation: battery charging, motorcycle repair, fan repair, electrical installations, medicine selling and tractor driving, as well as the better-known tailoring and blacksmithing. These apprenticeships require months or years of training. Learning "native medicine" in Nigeria might take 10 years (Callaway, 1964). Especially in light of the paucity of slots available in secondary education in many countries and, moreover, the competition to remain on the formal education track, trade apprenticeships offer an important way of training young people for a vast, ever-expanding range of occupations: Speaking of his apprentices, a Senegalese master craftsmen observed, "I have boys who were thrown out of school" [Morice, 1982:516].
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Just as there are many different kinds of apprenticeships, there are many ways of undertaking an apprenticeship: from informally observing a parent plying a trade to highly contractual arrangements with a trade master or the manager of a modern business. Some apprentices live with the master, performing both professional and domestic labor, but others live nearby with parents or other relatives. Modes of recompense vary enormously as well. When the apprentice is a close relative fees might be waived. But in general, the less money paid in fees, the longer the apprenticeship and the more domestic labor expected. During the course of any one apprenticeship, the terms of the arrangement may change. An apprentice may progress from an unpaid resident learner to an independent paid employee or even, eventually, a business partner (Callaway, 1964). The Urban Informal Sector and Self-Employment Concerns about youth employment in urban areas have been expressed since at least the 1960s (see, for example, Callaway, 1964). But actual studies of self-employed urban youth are sparse. The self-help urban occupations of adolescents in what is known more broadly as the quasi-legal "informal sector" may engage more youth than any other type of work. Young people can be found in cities offering to carry shopping bags, guard cars, wash windshields, load lorries, recruit taxi passengers, lead livestock from market to slaughterhouse, sit precariously atop truckloads of produce during bumpy journeys, and sell almost anything: bread, mothballs, magazines, pills, dishtowels, and coat-hangers. Van Onselen's pioneering studies of South African gang life provide one historical source (1982). Marguerat's work on Lomé represents a new genre of studies that describes how foraging in the urban milieu adds up to a living and a way of life (1990; see also Burman and Naude, 1991, and Reynolds, 1991, on children in South Africa). Schildkrout's studies in Kano, Nigeria, of children's work, particularly that of girls who participate in trading, provide insight into an established urban tradition, to be discussed later (see, for example, 1979, 1981, 1986). On the whole, however, the literature is thinner on girls than on boys (see also Sanjek and Sanjek, 1976, on Accra, Ghana). The activities of adolescent girls in urban areas probably still fall into the same categories of closely supervised training and house work as in the past. The press has suggested that youthful prostitution has begun to expand in certain urban areas in the current recession. Several exposés on Nigerian prostitution reveal that women tend to start around 18 (African Concord, June 3, 1991). A recent newspaper article on Nairobi suggests even lower ages (New York Times , January 2, 1991), though we have little systematic data to assess these impressions.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Finally, the news media carry many references to young male teenagers in various armies in Sudan, Liberia, Mozambique, Somalia, and Angola in what is best seen as the informal military sector. For instance, a newspaper story entitled "Is Food Going to Orphans or Future Sudan Rebels?" describes how 12,000 "young boys" from Sudan, who were largely under the age of 15, were "recruited by separatist guerrillas and taken to Ethiopia as part of a scheme to give themselves a manpower pool of the future" (New York Times, August 13, 1991). As urbanization increases, the opportunities for youth to make a living in cities will inevitably increase, whether within the law or outside it. How these opportunities intersect with life cycles of fertility, family, and employment is almost totally unexplored. PATTERNS OF FEMALE EMPLOYMENT Men's employment bears relevance for fertility through the influence of work and income on the ability to acquire partners. But the clearest mutual implications between work and fertility are for women. By 20, girls in most African societies have already begun their work careers or childbearing—or both. How these two careers intersect with one another, both within adolescence and over the longer life cycle, determines how soon, and at what pace, full adult responsibilities must begin. The timing of these events varies according to women's occupational opportunities, which in turn grow out of the economy itself. This section brings together several types of data to examine women's range of life-long opportunities for work within the division of labor. It begins with very general economic categories, identifying the kinds of work for women that each economy creates. Table 6-2 groups countries into four very broad economic types using ILO data for 1980 (the latest available): agriculture, mixed trading, industrial influence, and Sahelian pastoralism. The following patterns emerge: Agricultural economies: For the 24 countries listed in this category, an average of 90 percent of the female labor force is employed in agriculture. In these same countries, 35 percent of girls aged 10–14 are in the labor force. This early start to work life tends to be associated with a peak in labor force participation in midlife. Mixed trading economies: As in Group A, women in these economies are highly active in the labor force, but in trade and processing as well as in agriculture. Only 69 percent of employed women are in agriculture, and only 23 percent begin work life before the age of 15. This later start of work is associated with a peak at a later age. Industrially influenced economies: In southern Africa, the proportion of women in the labor force who are engaged in agriculture is still
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 6-2 Participation of Women in Labor Force, by Type of Economy, African Countries, 1980: Percentage Except as Noted Country Girls 10–14 in Labor Force (1) Women in the Labor Force Who Are in Agriculture (2) Girls 10–14 in the Labor Force Who Are in Agriculture (3)=(1)x(2) Peak Labor Force Participation (years) (4) A: Agricultural Economies (high FLFP, midlife peak) Angola 29 89 26 40–44 Burkina Faso 46 86 40 35–39 Burundi 47 98 46 35–39 Congo 21 87 18 55–59 Ethiopia 33 85 28 30–34 Equitorial Guinea 29 86 25 40–44 Gabon 19 88 17 40–44 The Gambia 35 93 33 40–44 Guinea 34 88 30 40–44 Guinea Bissau 34 92 31 40–44 Kenya 35 86 30 40–44 Liberia 19 87 17 40–44 Malawi 38 94 36 45–49 Madagascar 33 94 31 40–44 Mozambique 50 97 49 45–49 Niger 47 94 44 35–39 Rwanda 47 98 46 35–39 Senegal 43 90 39 40–44 Sierra Leone 18 82 15 40–44 Somalia 31 90 28 40–44 Tanzania 42 92 39 40–44 Uganda 38 89 34 40–44 Zaire 24 95 23 40–44 Zambia 20 84 17 55–59 Mean (N = 24) 35 90 31 — Pattern — — — Midlife B: Mixed Trading Economies (high FLFP, late peak) Benin 28 75 21 30–34 Cameroon 24 78 19 45–49 Côte d'Ivoire 26 75 20 40–44 Ghana 6 52 3 50–54 Nigeria 19 69 13 50–54 Togo 34 67 23 40–44 Mean (N = 6) 23 69 17 — Pattern — — — Older
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Country Girl 10–14 in Labor Force (1) Women in the Labor Force Who Are in Agriculture (2) Girls 10–14 in the Labor Force Who Are in Agriculture (3)=(1)x(2) Peak Labor Force Participation (years) (4) C: Industrial Influence Economics (low FLFP, early peak) Botswana 7 86 6 20–24 Lesotho 12 90 11 45–49 Namibia 10 51 5 20–24 South Africa 0 13 — 20–24 Swaziland 30 83 25 40–44 Zimbabwe 31 82 25 40–44 Mean (N = 6) 15 68 12 — Pattern — — — Young D: Sahelian Pastoral Economies (very low FLFP, no peak) Chad 11 87 10 — Mali 14 78 11 — Mauritania 12 87 10 — Mean (N = 3) 12 84 10 — Pattern — — — None NOTE: FLFP = female labor force participation. SOURCE: International Labour Office (1986, 1990). fairly high, especially if South Africa itself is removed, but work life starts relatively late and peaks early. Sahelian pastoral economies: In these countries, pastoralism is the mainstay of the economy, and Islamic sexual and marital codes often apply. Very few women are recorded as being in the labor force, as we will show presently. Those few who are recorded tend to appear as working in agriculture; they begin work early and have a steady participation rate until age 59. Taking the top 10 countries in proportions of girls aged 10–14 who are working (column 1), and the proportions of working women who are in agriculture (column 2), we find 7 countries on both lists. Agricultural economies seem to put women to work at early ages. Women in mixed trading, industrially influenced, and Sahelian pastoral economies, on the other hand, either have more varied work prospects or fewer at all; these configurations appear to entail a later entry into work.
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa TABLE 6-3 Labor Force Participation Rate of Girls Aged 10–14, 1950 and 1980 Country 1950 1980 Change (percentage points) A: Agricultural Economies Kenya 38 35 -3 Madagascar 37 33 -4 Rwanda 50 47 -3 Senegal 45 42 -3 Uganda 41 38 -3 B: Mixed Trading Economies Côte d'Ivoire 46 26 -20 Ghana 18 6 -12 Nigeria 21 19 -2 C: Industrial Influence Economie Botswana 21 7 -14 Lesotho 19 12 -7 South Africaa 3 0 -3 Swaziland 39 30 -9 Zimbabwe 36 31 -5 D: Sahelian Pastoral Economies Chad 19 16 -3 Mali 12 11 -1 Mauritania 17 11 -6 a The base year is 1960. SOURCE: International Labour Office (1986, 1990). With the exceptions of Côte d'Ivoire, Botswana, and Ghana, these general national characteristics of labor force participation among young female adolescents have changed little over the past 30 years. Table 6-3 suggests that these cross-sectional data do not represent merely a passing moment in a rapidly unfolding scenario. Despite recent changes in female labor force participation our categorization of countries appears to reflect persistent economic patterns that, despite surface changes, people can count on if they plan over the life cycle. ILO data can also be used for the next step in the analysis: examining the association between the various types of economies and the timing of entry into childbearing, which we measure with Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data.1 One example from each type of economy is used to 1 The age points for fertility and marriage in Figures 6-1 and 6-2 were derived from the published DHS country reports. Because the reports display birth and marriage figures for women who are currently in the relevant age groups and thus have not yet completed their
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa might be eased by the acquisition of a first daughter-in-law, labor force participation begins to decline, but it does not begin a sharp descent until age 60, when the last of a woman's children are reaching marriageable ages. In Ghana, the mixed trading economy, work and childbearing begin late, about the time that marriage begins. The pattern of work activity is also quite different from that in an agricultural economy: the peak of work activity occurs at 50–54, 10 years later than in an agricultural economy and well past the end of childbearing. This late peak may reflect the fact that, unlike in an agricultural economy, women's work is progressively less arduous as women assume supervisory roles, either by retaining their own daughters into late adolescence or acquiring other girls as workers and trainees. In Botswana, where a very high proportion of adolescent births are premarital (a fact we discuss in more detail below), the pattern of work before age 25 is similar to that of Ghana, with substantial work beginning during a woman's late teens. However, the similarity of Botswana and Ghana ends after age 25 because reported labor force participation in Botswana peaks quite early, at 20–24, during the early stages of childbearing, and then declines slowly through middle and old age. Finally, in Mali, the labor force participation of women is uniformly low over the life cycle, whereas marriage and childbearing begin very early. DISCUSSION These patterns of work, fertility, and marriage in the various types of African economies raise two related questions: Where women begin work and childbearing at an early age, what mechanisms within a woman's life cycle determine how early in her adolescence she takes on adult responsibilities? Do some of the determinants or reinforcements for an individual woman's pattern lie not only in her own projected opportunities but in her relationship with the older generation at different stages of career growth? In agricultural economies a young woman starts out early as a helper to her mother, marries quickly to gain productive rights to her own plot, and begins childbearing as she steps up her contributions to a slowly retiring older generation of in-laws. In fact, by the time many women in agricultural economies reach adolescence, their mothers and, above all, their mothers-in-law (with whom they very likely reside) are beginning the slow decline in labor force participation. It may be that principally because she acquires a daughter-in-law, an older woman can decrease her own taxing farm duties. Classically, in systems in which women do much of the farming, the division of labor and the skills required are not diverse enough to support apprenticeships and other training in alternative work, so institutions that
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa provide niches for adolescent activities other than agriculture barely exist. By contrast, in Ghana, a mixed trading economy, young women seem to be preparing for the ''long haul'' of life. Adolescence is a more prolonged period, in which women build up expertise through formal education and apprenticeships. They are expected to become increasingly self-reliant as they grow older, to be able eventually to fill the same support role for their own dependents as their elders did for them. Those dependents, in turn, must learn both technical and social skills that are considered too difficult to learn in childhood and too specialized to be available within the narrow confines of most natal families. In the process of imparting the skills of their trade, the older women will put other, younger women to work. Because older women are taking on younger women as apprentices or helpers, they can expand their economic activities for 10 years or so past the age of childbearing. For adolescent women, then, marriage and childbearing are postponed until the older generation has conveyed specialist skills to them that are suited to a diversified economy and, in doing so, has made maximum use of youthful labor for its own economic purposes. In Botswana, an industrially influenced economy, the attempt to establish some tie with a male labor migrant is almost certainly one of the early efforts a young women makes as she begins her childbearing career. This strategy is adapted to a situation in which men have considerably more employment options than women. Older women appear to face an even bleaker labor market than do their daughters and daughters-in-law. As their own labor force participation declines, the only major role that remains open to them appears to be childcare for their daughters who enter the labor market about the time that they begin an early motherhood outside of marriage. (Ethnographic evidence from as early as the 1930s supports this interpretation; see, for example, Schapera, 1933.) Finally, in Mali, a country in the pastoral Sahel, few women actively participate in the work force. Because families have little to gain by keeping their daughters home during an idle adolescence, and much to gain from forging alliances with other families through marriage and the arrival of grandchildren, young women begin their marital and childbearing careers quite early. The rest of this chapter pursues the idea that the different economic patterns we have found in the macro data produce different emphases on adolescent education and training. The resulting patterns are played out in each generation through personal life cycles and intergenerational relations. FERTILITY AND TRAINING OUTSIDE SCHOOLING Schooling is only one of many training possibilities, and other forms of adolescent training and work experience that abound in a highly diverse
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa labor market may have effects on delaying marriage and parenthood that broadly resemble those of education. Unlike schooling, however, with its official enrollment statistics, the young people engaged in training opportunities in the informal sector are extremely difficult to enumerate. Training opportunities in business and manufacturing, and even in skills such as nursing or secretarial work, can spring up in a variety of contexts, ranging from trade schools to small shops and even private homes. Because the major demographic surveys lack questions that would allow us to examine the association between fertility and training, broadly defined, for women, we rely on logical inference from the limited ethnographic evidence that can be gleaned. The following analysis takes the broad interpretations suggested by the national statistical studies and explores them more fully through recourse to local studies. It identifies patterns through the use of both common cases and apparent exceptions. The two most important economic patterns for women in sub-Saharan Africa are those dominated by subsistence farming and those with highly diversified specialty occupations. In most African agrarian communities, young women need comparatively little specialized knowledge to begin productive activities. This fact, coupled with a high demand for their labor and reproductive capacities, is consistent with early marriage and the assumption of farming activities. Quite different from agricultural economies are those with highly differentiated tasks that require long periods of training. We describe first two especially visible examples of training activities in such economies: women's trade apprenticeships and home training. We then turn to several important variations that demonstrate the links between economy and training requirements. Women's Trade Apprenticeships Although boys clearly have more apprenticeship opportunities than girls do, across the continent young women with little or no schooling can enroll in professional schools for training in pursuits like nursing and secretarial and beautician work. Girls can take up less formal pursuits, such as domestic training, and instruction in indigenous skills such as herbalism or midwifery. And in Kenya, girls participate in the service sector as bar girls, servants, or prostitutes; or in occasional employment such as coffee- or tea-picking (King, 1977). But especially in coastal West Africa, many families pay for adolescent daughters' training in enterprises that can provide reliable income. Many girls engage in trade apprenticeships such as spinning, weaving, cloth dyeing, dressmaking, food processing, and trading (see, for example, Callaway, 1964; Robertson, 1984; White, 1987; Aronson, 1989). In western Nigeria new skills learned in girls' domestic science classes in school, such as dressmaking, catering, and baking wedding cakes, were quickly transferred to the market through apprenticeships (Denzer, 1992).
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Apprenticeship does not necessarily teach literacy or bring about greater exposure to Western ideas or even to urban life. Nevertheless, it is clearly in the learners' best interests to delay marriage and childbearing while they are in training. The longest periods of training for women are very likely associated with longer delays of marriage and childbearing, though there are virtually no available data, either quantitative or anecdotal, to address this hypothesis. Another important correlate of sexual activity and fertility is likely to be whether the apprentice lives with the trade mistress. The young Ghanaian women whose sexual activities are most likely to be monitored are those who live in the households of their trade mistresses, instead of living nearby (Gracia Clark, personal communication). To some extent, whether training takes place on a live-in basis depends on the nature of the occupation. Bakers' apprentices often live in because they must work late at night or very early in the morning. Beautician apprentices, on the other hand, are much less likely to live in because their trade is plied only in the daytime. Living arrangements for apprentices in trading also cover a wide range. Another criterion of the degree of monitoring, according to Clark, is degree of dependence on one's mistress. If an apprentice does not depend on the mistress for subsistence but earns a wage or lives on her own profits, then her sexual life is more likely to be viewed as her own business; pregnancy, when it happens, is a relatively casual transition. Only in cases in which pregnancy would clearly pose a problem, such as in curtailing the travel necessary for conducting a trading business, would such an apprentice be dismissed. Fostering and Home Training The fosterage/housemaid practices (often called "home training" or "domestic training") that are common particularly in West Africa seem quite different from formal education or apprenticeships. Girls account for the overwhelming majority of home training children. They work very long hours, under close surveillance and strict discipline. They perform much of the labor in urban households: sweeping, cutting firewood, hauling water, preparing food, washing clothes, and caring for guardians' young children (for parallel descriptions, see Blanc and Lloyd, 1990). In Sierra Leone, a cultural metaphor, "gekko,'' compares such girls to the lizards that inhabit rural houses, clinging silently to the walls (Bledsoe, unpublished field notes). Though cast as a learning activity, home training is often a thin disguise for unpaid domestic drudgery in the service of adult women who are otherwise occupied in the economy. Indeed, families nowadays are leery of sending boys to people who merely keep them for domestic training and do not teach them a trade or Arabic or send them to school. But despite the
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa obvious potentials for exploitation, girls from poor rural families are usually happy to forsake the life of a "country" girl to go to an urban area to learn prestigious "civilized" styles of homemaking (see also Goody, 1989; Moran, 1992). In Sierra Leone girls sent to urban households for domestic training learn to cook in modern aluminum pots, rather than heavy earthenware or cast-iron pots; to use prepared ingredients such as bouillon cubes and canned tomato paste, instead of preparing food from raw ingredients; to clean modern padded furniture, instead of wooden stools and straw mattresses; and to create individual places at a table with forks and spoons, rather than serving a large communal basin on the floor, out of which everyone eats with their hands. Such girls, even if they cannot attend school, may also learn the national lingua franca, making them doubly attractive as prospective wives and hostesses for educated, ''civilized" suitors (Bledsoe, unpublished field notes). Guardians feel considerable pressure to keep their home training girls from trafficking with men; they are expected to keep these girls under close surveillance as well as to discipline them severely for unexplained absences. Yet there are inevitable slippages. When they occur guardians are blamed, implicitly, for laxness in discipline. People often comment, on the other hand, that girls are especially vulnerable to male sexual advances and offers of monetary help when they are being punished by food deprivation for alleged carelessness or laziness. Like other forms of training, home training may delay marriage and childbearing. Conversely, as we saw in the case of formal schooling, girls who avoid pregnancy may get more home training experience. Girls in domestic training in Ghana who become pregnant are almost always evicted, unless they are close relatives (Gracia Clark, personal communication). Because guardians are anxious to reap the benefits of a girl's labor as she grows stronger and gains more skills, early pregnancy, logic suggests, goes against almost everyone's interests. The guardian cannot possibly obtain the services she needs from an adolescent mother, and the young woman's training is usually terminated. Variations on the Theme of Training and Fertility To flesh out the thesis that length of training, broadly defined, is related to the timing of entry into marriage and childbearing, we explore several variations in the major economic types we have identified, to see whether they are associated with predictable demographic variations. Secluded Female Industry If the need to train women for skills in a diverse economy is, in fact, linked to late entry into childbearing and marriage, then any major devia
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa tion from this pattern demands close scrutiny. There is, indeed, one such case, that of the Hausa people in northern Nigeria, which has special significance for the study of African adolescent fertility. The apparent contradiction to be explained is that despite a pressing need for training in a vibrantly diverse commercial economy with numerous work opportunities for women, girls begin marriage and childbearing extremely young. Indeed, they marry at ages that are almost the lowest in the entire continent. The World Fertility Survey data for Nigeria, as coded by Lesthaeghe et al. (1989), show that the proportion of Hausa women who are single at aged 15–19 is as low as 14 percent in two of three of the regions surveyed. "Hausa girls marry at or before puberty, traditionally by twelve years of age" (Schildkrout, 1986:197). By contrast, two-thirds of the men aged 20–24 are single, making this the largest age gap between spouses in all of Africa. Data for the nearby Kanuri people, also Islamic, are similar: Whereas over 50 percent of young women are married by age 15, the average age at marriage for men is about 30 (Cohen, 1971). Among the Hausa, devotion to Islamic early marriage is combined with women's nonagricultural employment. Male trades are highly developed; even farmers spend the dry season working in other occupations. Women, by contrast, work within their compounds. Rural women are engaged in work ancillary to agriculture—grain trade (Hill, 1969), cooked food sales, or primary processing—whereas urban women engage primarily in cooking food (Schildkrout, 1986). To complicate matters, women must be secluded within compounds upon or even before marriage, and have little freedom to venture outside to conduct business. Though a woman relies heavily on income from the commercial economy, she usually enters purdah (seclusion) upon marriage and cannot go outside the compound to earn, solicit trade, deliver products, or collect payments. How, then, do the Hausa train girls to participate in a highly competitive commercial economy before they must leave home at such an early age? They do so by sharply compressing the training period and starting it when the girls are very young. To carry on their trade, women in purdah depend on children, who run errands, take messages, deliver goods, purchase ingredients, and engage in street hawking. It is very much in their interest, therefore, both to bear children as soon as possible and to begin training these children at precocious ages in marketable skills and responsibilities. "From about the age of four, and sometimes even earlier, children are expected to participate in many adult activities" (Schildkrout, 1986:201). They manage money, collect their own savings, and make items to sell to other children. By the age of marriage, as young as 11, "they are expected to be able to assume virtually all adult responsibilities" (Schildkrout, 1986:215; see also Schildkrout, 1979). The entire learning/training process is intensified and pushed back into childhood for the additional purpose of sexual protection. Northern
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa Nigeria is the only area in the country for which there is documentation in court records of sexual attacks by adult men on girls. (Of course, any nubile young woman who is outside her compound is likely branded as promiscuous and therefore as inviting attack.) Because it is no longer safe to circulate for trade outside the compound, girls approaching puberty are kept at home. Mothers therefore strive to impart skills quickly to their daughters, before the Islamic ideals of seclusion and early marriage place severe restrictions on their movement. So urgent is the need to inculcate training, and at the same time to follow religious tenets of seclusion, that female adolescence becomes a highly compressed moment in time, rather than a long, careful span of training. Schildkrout (1979:77) sums up these key features of adolescence for Hausa girls, compared to those for boys: For boys, there is a long transition period from childhood to adulthood, during which time new occupational skills are learned . . . For girls, . . . [because they] participate fully in housework and in women's income-producing activities from a very young age, and also sometimes carry on small businesses of their own as children . . . , there is no transition period in which adult economic roles, distinct from the economic roles performed in childhood, are learned. These striking patterns of secluded industry constitute what is clearly an unusual case of the constraints on training for adult roles. But they show that as early as marriage and reproduction may begin, training for adult life in such a competitive economy cannot be neglected; if necessary it will be severely compressed and started as soon as possible. Eastern Versus Western African Trade Apprenticeships While the Hausa case demonstrates an adaptation of female training regimes to a drastically shortened childhood, the existence of other variations among specialized economies also supports the thesis that entry into childbearing is related to training needs. King (1977) points to some key regional differences that, though described primarily for boys, lend indirect support to this thesis. In eastern Africa, and Kenya in particular, small African-owned industries that were based on intermediate-or low-level technologies began to arise only in the 1930s. After independence, in 1963, the departure of noncitizen Indians made room for their African former employees to go into business on their own, taking on, in turn, their own employees and apprentices who pay fees to be trained. Within what remains a relatively open economic frontier, apprenticeships tend to be short: usually less than a year. In western Africa, by contrast, trades have deep historical roots. These trades have tended to become the monopolies of certain families, almost
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa like guilds, which effectively minimize competition by restricting access to the ranks of the skilled. Although minimal fees may be paid, apprenticeships take on the character of long-term indentured labor to a patron, sometimes with elaborate written contracts. Apprentices work for several years, living with the master and providing business and domestic labor. Knowledge is construed as highly secret and as earned only slowly and cumulatively from the master through years of hard work, loyalty, and unquestioning obedience. Training often has distinct stages, and passage from one to another and to final independence is based on the cumulative acquisition of the master's blessings as well as on technical and ritual knowledge (for support of this general depiction of western African apprenticeships, see especially Callaway, 1964; and Dilley, 1989). Girls plainly have fewer opportunities than boys do to take up trade apprenticeships; but our observations suggest that varied economies may produce for girls, as well, quite diverse forms of training in the social and commercial skills that they cannot learn adequately in earlier childhood or improvise efficiently in adulthood. For girls who do take up apprenticeships, especially in areas like Ghana and southern Nigeria, these training activities may be as instrumental as formal schooling in delaying marriage and childbearing. Rice Farming Although this chapter focuses on training needs in diverse, nonfarming economies, another way to test the training/fertility thesis is to examine variations in farming types. Rice farming presents an important case. Growing rice appears to require substantially greater knowledge than do other crops on the subcontinent (see Richards, 1985, for descriptions). Because longer training periods might be expected for women, we might expect to find that women marry and begin childbearing later in areas where women participate heavily in rice growing—primarily Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire—than they do in areas with other kinds of farming. Although direct quantitative evidence to substantiate this point is unavailable, it may be significant that this rice-growing region is the only region of Africa where, before the advent of formal schooling, girls used to be sent off to the women's secluded Sande society for extended periods before they could marry. (Nowadays, initiations last only a few days or a few weeks.) The Sande initiated girls into the mysteries of womanhood; among the kinds of knowledge they were allegedly taught was agriculture, which they were required to practice on the leaders' farms (MacCormack, 1979). Sande society leaders aggressively forbid sexual contacts with men before as well as during initiation. Although it is difficult to estimate the number of potentially reproductive years that initiation consumed, at least until the midtwentieth century, initiation ideally began at puberty (MacCormack,
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa 1977). Because initiation—or labor for Sande officials—could last up to three years, this process delayed entry into parenthood for women in this region substantially beyond the age in areas where girls married at puberty. Generational Exchanges: Training for Labor The patterns that these diverse examples bring to light suggest that the range of options in the wider economy and, hence, the extent of training and monitoring strongly affect adolescent fertility. The later marriage and childbearing that so clearly surface in demographic results, particularly in countries such as Nigeria and Ghana with diverse occupational options for women, seem plausibly related to the long training that much of the female population acquires from a senior generation of women who are themselves highly skilled. The need to prepare girls for the long haul in a complex division of labor suggests that formal education is one form of training that delays childbearing; but it is by no means the only one. To be sure, some forms of apprenticeship and domestic and farm work in Africa may be poor examples of training. Particularly in western Africa some apprenticeships are described as little more than exploitation of young labor: The skills and knowledge learned in these pursuits are alleged to be minimal, in light of the time actually spent in service. The implication is that workers are being retained at low or fictitious wages on the pretext of training needs. (For trade apprenticeships, see Hart, 1975; King, 1977; Bromley and Gerry, 1979. For western African secret societies, see Little, 1948; Gaisseau, 1954; Dennis, 1972; MacCormack, 1979. For an alternative view of Nigerian apprenticeships, see Callaway, 1964.) Indeed, we cannot fully understand the dynamics of either male or female apprenticeship without acknowledging its "cheap labor" function: the possibly disproportionate "training" time that masters demand of students to learn very narrow technical skills. Certainly the Hausa case revealed that girls can be taught complicated commercial skills quickly, if necessary. Yet even under conditions of obvious exploitation, benefits flow in both directions. In Ghana, the process of learning is inextricably linked to expectations that the learner will work. Although a mother may use her teenage daughter's labor to manage her own commercial activities, families generally provide training or school fees and minimum living expenses (Akuffo, 1987). By contrast with women in southern Africa, where peak periods of work come with early motherhood and older women begin to recede into the background as younger ones take over, West African women who are active as either learners or workers in the labor force appear to have some protection from immediate marriage demands. As a result, whether or not training is a form of exploitation may be irrelevant to fertility outcomes. Whether we call this period "training" or "exploitation," elders in
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa some societies are maintaining adolescents for several years and withholding them from adult activities and responsibilities. Indeed, that a trader may try to extract the maximum labor from her apprentices simply underscores the undeniable interests she has in preventing their pregnancies. CONCLUSION This chapter has argued that the kinds of work opportunities available for women in the wider economy determine the kinds of training that girls will need. In extremely complex African economies, training activities such as trade apprenticeships, ritual initiations, or training in domestic service or Arabic literacy engage a wide range of youth. Because the realm of instructional activity in Africa is far larger than the narrow category of formal schooling, which has absorbed such disproportionate research attention, formal schooling may be only one of many forms of training in a diverse economy that have important bearing on fertility. Most African societies strongly urge young people to postpone marriage and reproduction until they have proven themselves ready to support their own dependents by completing their vital preparations for adult life—whatever forms these may take. In fact, marriage itself may be considered less significant in determining the appropriate time for reproduction than is completing ritual or instructional preparation for adulthood. To be sure, the source of the impetus for delaying fertility is not clear. Assuming that women make independent decisions about their own reproduction, we typically search for variables in the background of individual women to explain their fertility patterns. The problem with this procedure is that adolescents seldom make career or fertility decisions with complete independence. Instead, training (and, therefore, timing of entry into marriage and childbearing) more accurately represents time and financial support that adults are willing to give a girl to enhance her adult work potential, instead of requiring her to marry early to gain the support of a son-in-law and his kin. Whatever its effect on young women themselves, even formal education ultimately reflects the needs of adults and their ability to create a period for training that prepares young women for particular career trajectories. The person who actually makes the decision about a young woman's future and about supporting her may not be her parent, but may instead be someone in the family with more experience in the outside world: someone who knows about different modern occupations, and about the advantages and risks of pursuing them. This relative may even have to argue with family elders who want to take advantage of an immediate marriage offer and withdraw the girl from training or school. At any rate, someone who
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Social Dynamics of Adolescent Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa has responsibility for a girl is willing to create space for more slowly paced training for her. With the emphasis shifted from young women themselves toward adults as the power holders in decisions to delay childbearing and marriage, we can turn more specific attention to those adults who are in charge of training itself. It is no accident that the most successful professional women are usually those who gain the most labor from younger women whom they take on as apprentices and assistants. These employers very likely try to control young women's sexuality in order to gain the maximum benefit from their growing strength and skills. Late ages of marriage and childbearing among younger women, then, stem not simply from young women's own desires to continue their training; nor do they necessarily stem from the desires of older women to protect younger ones from men's demands for early sex and marriage. Instead, older people may be creating cultural space for young women to delay childbearing because their work is needed. We stress that the economy must have niches for which younger women can train. This requirement for economic niches for women appears to be a key determinant of the length and intensity of adolescent training and, therefore, of entry into childbearing. It is a key determinant not because older women become role models but because in economies with marked divisions of labor by sex, it is the older women who train the younger ones in marketable skills—or at least withhold them from marriage and reproduction long enough for them to learn these skills. The importance of older women using their younger counterparts for their own business labor raises a possibility much like the one Chapter 5 stresses for formal education: Training may lead to lower fertility; but it also may be that young women who manage to avoid pregnancy are able to continue their training. It is even possible that girls who feel exploited in domestic training or apprenticeships may adopt the Botswana schoolgirl strategy—becoming pregnant in order to drop out. We would not argue with either formulation; indeed, both are quite plausible. Whatever the impetus, the end of training likely coincides closely with the beginning of childbearing.
Representative terms from entire chapter: