An investigation of the determinants of child poverty in Boipatong Township
Makhalima, Jabulile Lindiwe
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The study investigated on the determinants of child poverty in Boipatong Township. The premise of the study was on the fact that children do not have an isolated existance but that they exist in households and hence the household context and the characteristics of the head of the household determine to a greater extent the well being of the child. The main focus of the investigation therefore was on the household and the head of the household characteristics and how they contribute to child poverty. The characteristics of the head of the household included age, gender, marital status, educational level and employment status. Household characteristics such as income and the size of the household were also taken into consideration. A total of 300 questionnaires were collected in the survey. The study made use of a logistic regression on the determinants of child poverty status. The results found that unemployment, age, and male heads of households increased the probability of a child being poor. The results of the regression also indicated that household income and household size were significant in explaining child poverty. Children living in large households were found to have a higher chance of being poor and higher income was found to reduce the probability of a child falling into poverty. The study further investigated whether the determinants of child poverty in the logistic regression also contributes to child deprivation measured as a continuous variable in an OLS regression. The dependent variable was the child deprivation index, which was adapted from Barnes‟ (2009) list of necessities for children. The OLS regression results found household size, employment status, marital status and education level to be significant determinants of child deprivation. Heads of households were also asked about their perceived consequences of child poverty. The study found that heads of households perceived poor children to be less likely to resort to drugs and prostitution. However, children were perceived to resort to crime due to their poverty situation. The heads of the households, however, had differing views regarding social exclusion and educational outcomes. Non-poor households perceived social exclusion and poor academic outcomes to be consequences of child poverty while poor households felt that a child‟s poverty status does not determine their educational outcomes or whether they will be socially An investigation of the determinants of child poverty in Boipatong Township excluded or not. The poor disagreed with the perception that poor children are perceived to have poor health outcomes due to their poverty status while the non-poor felt that the poverty status of a child, in fact, will influence their health outcomes. The study made recommendations based on the understanding that child poverty is a derived position. Therefore, child poverty cannot be addressed directly, but through its causes, hence the recommendations were toward the causes to achieve a reduction in child poverty and child deprivation. The recommendations included the establishment of a community one-stop information centre, where residents can find information pertaining to employment, education opportunities and career guidance among other things. The provision of internet access at a minimal fee would also enable the residents to apply for jobs and bursaries for those who want to pursue their studies further. Linked to the lack of information is the lack of skills among the unemployed, which in turn makes it difficult for them to find employment. Therefore, it was also recommended that there should be government-private sector collaboration in the provision of various skills that will make the residents employable so that they can provide for the needs of their children. The provision of finance facilities by the likes of the IDC and the NEF to emerging small businesses are recommended in order to assist the informal businesses to graduate to formal small and medium enterprises. Self-employment will also enable parents to attend to the needs of their children. Lastly, back-yard farming for household consumption and small-scale farming at community level were pointed out as ways to deal with food insecurity that was found to be a contributor to child deprivation. Starting a small-scale farming co-operative through the support of the local municipality and experienced farmers close to the area could also address the issue of unemployment, which will ultimately lead to the reduction of child poverty and child deprivation in the township.