New Perspectives on Divorce in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Cohort Analysis of Women born between 1955-2000
Benson John, Natalie Nitsche1
1Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

A systematic analysis of birth cohort change in the experience of union dissolutions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is lacking from the literature. Moreover, little is still known on union dissolution risks and birth cohort changes therein by socio-economic background. Using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data collected in 35 African countries since 1986, we investigate cohort changes in divorce probabilities among women born between 1955 and 2000 across four African regions and 19 singular countries. Our findings reveal that while the risk of divorce indeed generally declined across all regions, it did not do so among highly educated women and those who initiated the first union between age 15 and 24 in East Africa. We also find evidence of rising divorce probabilities in 7 countries across East Africa. The education gradient in union dissolution, though diminishing, is pronounced in West and Middle Africa, but not in East Africa.