A study has shown that urban-rural migration in Mpumalanga has resulted in many families being dependent on state grants.
The movement has also tended to leave children without supervision.
The study, commissioned by the Mpumalanga Department of Social Development and done by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), was conducted in Lupisi, Kabokweni, Verena, Kwa-Mhlanga, Ermelo and Nyibe.
It found that migration led to reduced numbers of people among those of working age being present in family structures. This had an effect on children and the elderly, whose welfare depends on those of working age.
Social grants were the only way of survival for many old people, who use their pension grants to support their children and grandchildren.
The study was conducted between August last year and May.
The principal investigator of the study, Dr Monde Makiwane, said its purpose had been to research the situation of families in Mpumalanga.
He said the research had also been conducted to determine the socio-economic welfare of different groups, including children, the elderly, men, women and the youth.
The study said the absence of parents was also indirectly linked to teenage pregnancy because children’s movement tended to be unsupervised.
“The common perception is that migration provides opportunities for employment, but it also contributes to the vulnerability of the family members by affecting the integrity of marriage and exposing children to neglect,” it said.
Multi-generational families – consisting of grandchildren, parents and grandparents as well as extended families – were common among people of lower economic status in Mpumalanga.
The scourge of HIV/ Aids meant child-headed homes were becoming common.