Family Changes and Adolescent Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Oluwaseyi Dolapo Somefun


Adolescent development is affected, not only by individual factors but by the broader social environment in which families live. This raises the following questions: how do changing dynamics of familial life influence adolescent development and how is the effect of family change similar or different across countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)? This chapter examines the influence of familial changes on adolescent development in SSA. The role of families in the lives and decision-making processes of adolescent is often underestimated, especially by policy makers. Although the transition to greater independence is a hallmark of adolescent development, families clearly have a role and exert significant influence on the choices young people make about their sexual behaviour. The issue of adolescent development is particularly important in SSA, because the region is experiencing rapid changes in family life and because there are more young people in the region than ever before. This chapter engages with the issue of adolescent development by applying the family composition perspective. In this chapter analysis of demographic and health survey data from 12 selected countries in SSA supports the family composition perspective as an explanatory framework, to better understand the influences of the changing dynamics of familial life on the development of young people. I find that the protective role of the presence of two parents in the household varied among the regions that were studied when adolescent development is operationalized as protective sexual behaviour (condom use and age-disparate relationship).


Adolescent Development Family Dynamics Sub-Saharan Africa 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oluwaseyi Dolapo Somefun
    • 1
  1. 1.Demography and Population Studies Programme, Schools of Public Health and Social SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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