Why poor people have more kids

ON December 14 Tim Modise's After Eight SABC radio show discussed poverty. But nobody brought up the fact that poverty is engendered by the concentration of wealth in a few hands.

Some callers said poverty was caused by high population growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research shows that people are not poor because they have large families but have big families because they are poor.

In the peasant sector of the peripheral economy the division of labour by sex is between production of commodities and production of use values. In towns it is primarily between production and consumption functions.

Women are production agents. Children are thus raised as production and protection agents and incorporated into the labour process of small land holdings.

Peasants adjust the number of children they have to the economic, political, juridical and ideological conditions of their lives.

Among these conditions the economic structure ultimately tends to be the major determinant behaviour, especially at low-income levels. Individual economic rationality does not exist in the abstract - it is conditioned by the social position of the household relative to productive resources and to the social division of labour.

Since having children is often the only means to secure access to additional resources, more children are raised to increase the labour applied to a fixed piece of land so that it will not fall below subsistence level.

So those with the least land need the most children.

Sam Ditshego, Kagiso