'No link in child grant, pregnancies'

South African teenagers were not falling pregnant to get child support grants, a study released yesterday revealed.

South African teenagers were not falling pregnant to get child support grants, a study released yesterday revealed.

"From the data we have analysed, we conclude there are no grounds to believe that young South African girls are deliberately having children to access welfare benefits," says the Human Sciences Research Council's report.

Though teenage pregnancy rose rapidly during the 1980s, it had stabilised and even started to decline by the time the child support grant was introduced in 1998. In the eight years since then, only 3percent of beneficiaries were teenagers, compared with their 15percent contribution to the country's fertility.

Observed increases in "youthful fertility" had occurred across all social sectors, including young people who did not qualify for the child support grant on the means test.

While total fertility rates in South Africa had declined over the past few decades, teenage fertility increased in all race groups except Indians.

"In 1995 women aged 15 to 29 contributed an estimated 44percent to total fertility. This increased to 55percent in 2000. In addition, while the overall fertility of Africans has been declining over the period, births to teenage women have been increasing," says the report.

South Africa's teenage fertility rate was almost half that of sub-Saharan Africa's overall rate of 127. - Sapa

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