One in three girls has a baby by the age of 20, and this high rate of teen pregnancy has fuelled public perception that girls were falling pregnant in order to access the R190 per month CSG.


But fewer that 3% of the total number of beneficiaries of the grant are teenagers although teen mothers are responsible for 15% of all births, according to HSRC researchers Dr Monde Makiwane and Dr Eric Udjo.


The researchers analysed data from the 1995 and 1998 October Household Surveys, the 1998 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey and the 2001 Census.


They found that the upsurge in teenage fertility for young women aged 15 to 19 years predates the introduction of the CSG and is now declining.


‘€œIf anything, the upsurge coincides with the major political changes that were taking place in South Africa, and may be similar to a post-war boom,’€ Makiwane and Udjo said.


According to their research, only one out of five teen mothers were beneficiaries of the CSG. Although less fertile, women over 35 years were more likely to be direct beneficiaries of the CSG.


The researchers also found that the increase in teenage pregnancies had occurred across the board, including among sections of society that do not qualify for the means-tested CSG.


Makiwane and Udjo pointed out that the rising proportion of teenage pregnancies was visible across the world. The general trend, worldwide, was that where fertility rates were lower, the share of births to young women was highest.


In line with this trend, as the rate of fertility in South Africa declines, so the proportion of babies born to young women is increasing.


The HIV epidemic is a possible contributory factor to the decline in fertility of older women. Evidence from Uganda has shown that HIV-positive women are likely to have lower fertility rate, probably as a result of them both making a conscious decision to stop having children, or sterility due to the progression of the disease in later years.


Almost half of all children in South Africa received the CSG in March 2005 from a low of less than 0,5% in 1999.