A fifth of SA children in orphan-headed households: survey

06 December 2012 - 18:42 By Sapa
File photo.
File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Nearly a fifth of South African children live in orphan-headed households, according to a Statistics SA (StatsSA) report released on Thursday.

The Social Profile of SA annual report, based on data from the General Household Survey between 2002 and 2011, shows that 4.7 percent of South Africa's children had lost both parents.

It found that 11.1 percent of children had lost only their fathers and that 3.3 percent had lost only their mothers.

According to the report, 8.1 percent of children lived in skip-generation households with their grandparents.

Children accounted for 40 percent of South Africa's population in 2011, and the youth (ages 15-24) only slightly less at 37 percent. Older people made up nine percent of the population.

The report found that 65.1 percent of children in South Africa lived in households with a per capita income of less than R650 a month.

Close to 35 percent lived in households where no one was employed and where social grants and remittances were vital to buy food and education.

Social grants were received by 59.2 percent of children, 69 percent of older people, and 29.3 percent of South Africa's total population in 2011.

More than half (53.9 percent) of woman-headed households were poor compared to 31.7 percent of male-headed households.

There were no employed people in 55.5 percent of households headed by youths aged 15 to 24 and in 19.5 percent of households headed by older youths; 43 percent of woman-headed households; and 23.7 percent of male-headed households.

Low household income significantly contributed to insufficient access to adequate food and increased hunger.

People went hungry in 20 percent of households where no one was employed, compared to 11 percent of households with at least one employed person.

The report found the percentage of households which experienced hunger consistently declined between 2002 and 2011. Access to education had consistently improved since 2002.

The report questioned the poor conversion of education attendance into completion of secondary school, entry into higher education and completion of post-school qualifications.

The 17.5 percent of children and 36.4 percent of youth aged 15 to 24 who dropped out of educational institutions cited a lack of money to pay for fees as the main reason for dropping out.

By the age of 22, around 52.7 percent of youth were not attending an educational institution or working, 25.6 percent were working and 21.8 percent were still attending an educational institution.

The report found that many young people were at risk of becoming unemployable and of falling into systemic chronic poverty.