Multivariate statistical modelling of family formation processes among women in Namibia

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University of Namibia
Family formation is a significant event in life-course of individuals. Many studies have revealed shifts in demographic processes including child-bearing patterns, age at sexual debut and first marriage, and marital status over the years. While there have been numerous studies in demographic processes in specific populations, very few studies have focused on family formation processes, and little or no quantitative research has been conducted on the distribution and dynamics and determinants of family formation in Namibia. This study employed a cross-sectional retrospective mixed methods design to achieve various objectives namely: to examine emerging marital patterns and trends in Namibia since attaining its independence in 1990; to analyze the hazards of first marriage and sexual debut and determinants of age at first marriage and sexual debut ; to establish factors associated with non-marital fertility; to examine perceptions of women regarding key union principles and values on matters of divorce, cohabiting, widowhood, polygamy, sex before and outside marriage based on a qualitative study; and to come up with family formation recommendations to guide policy and also pave way for further research. The study used data from the Namibia 1992 to 2006/7 DHS and from focus group discussions, which gave in-depth understanding on perceptions on family formation processes. Trend analysis, binary and multinomial logistic regression models were used to model the patterns and determinants of marital status. Discrete time hazard models through Bayesian Structured Additive Regression (STAR) approach were used to estimate the hazards of a woman’s sexual debut and first marriage. The Hurdle Logit Negative Binomial (HLNB) regression model was used to model non-marital fertility. Findings indicated a general change away from marriage, with a shift in mean age at marriage which rose from 21 years in 1992 to almost 23 years in 2006. Cohabitation was prevalent among those less than 30 years of age; the odds were higher in urban areas and increased since the year 1992. Be as it may marriage remained a persistent nuptiality pattern, and common among the less educated and employed, but had lower odds in urban areas. Multinomial regression results suggested that marital status was associated with age-at-first-marriage, total children born, region, place of residence, education level and religion. Marital patterns have undergone significant transformation over the past two decades in Namibia, with a coexistence of traditional marriage framework with co-habitation, and sizeable proportion of women remaining unmarried to the late 30s. An upward shift in the mean age is becoming distinctive in the Namibian society. Period and cohort effects in the timing of first sex were evident among women in Namibia. Efforts to discourage early sexual debut should be stepped up especially in North-Eastern Namibia. Results did not suggest a significant nonlinear pattern of age at first marriage with age, cohort and period. First marriage timing in Namibia was influenced by the woman’s age, birth cohort, period, place of residence, highest educational level, socio-economic status and region. Intervention strategies should not only target schools and the wider community in isolation, but should involve the individual family units as they have a bigger role to play in this regard. Non-marital fertility was associated with the age, educational level, urbanity, and socio-economic status. Rural women had higher fertility propensity compared to their urban counterparts even though there was no significant difference in fertility intensity. Fertility intensity decreased as the women got richer. Intervention efforts should focus on promoting education among girls and women especially in rural areas to improve their socio-economic status, reduce teenage pregnancy and non-marital fertility. Qualitative findings supported the quantitative findings and gave an in-depth understanding of women’s perceptions on family formation processes.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Statistics
Marital patterns, Namibia, Age-at-first marriage
Pazvakawambwa, L. (2015). Multivariate statistical modelling of family formation processes among women in Namibia. University of Namibia, Windhoek.