Spouse in the house: Household structures and roles, gender, and quality of life in the Gauteng City-Region,South Africa

Presented by Alexandra Parker

Date: 
Monday, 3 August, 2020 - 16:00

Who we live with and our domestic responsibilities can impact our quality of life or well-being. For example, considerable research examining the relationship between household headship and poverty has shown that although female- and male-headed households are broad and heterogenous categorisations, female-headed households have some consistent disadvantages and are frequently poorer than male-headed households. In addition, some studies have found the marital status of the household head to be a valuable predictor of the welfare of the household -- but this research has frequently focused on household income and poverty levels rather than the well-being of individuals within the household. In this paper I explore the relationship of respondents’ quality of life to their household structure and domestic responsibilities in the Gauteng city-region in South Africa. I use data from the GCRO Quality of Life V (2017/18 survey) to analyse and understand the relationship between certain family dynamics and quality of life in the Gauteng city-region, South Africa. The survey comprises data from 24 889 adults and corresponding household information, forming a representative sample across all 529 wards of Gauteng. Analysis is conducted using the Quality of Life composite index, comprised of 33 indicators, to provide a value out of 100, generated from the Quality of Life survey data. I show that household structures, such as whether adults live with their children, and roles, such as household headship, are influenced by sex and that these structures and roles have a relationship with quality of life. I find that women who have roles of responsibility in the household, such as household head and primary carer of children, have a lower quality of life, and this has more to do with the roles in the family and household structures than with sex alone. Respondents living with a partner or spouse have a much higher than average quality of life irrespective of their roles and responsibilities in the household. As household structures are shaped by external social policies and practices, such as child care services and parental leave policies, understanding the relationship between household structure and quality of life can inform policies that will impact the wellbeing of adults within households.

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