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Study shows youth are happier in come-we-stay relationships

Friday September 20 2019


Most young people feel the ideal age for marriage is 27 to 29. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A majority of young people who get married with a lot of fanfare end up in unhappy unions compared to those in come-we-stay marriages, a recent survey has revealed.

As a result, these unhappy couples ultimately think marriage is not important, despite having got married at the “right age”.

Today’s young people treasure good health and are taking more vegetables and fruits.

They are also finding love and friends on the internet and their ideal drug is bhang, which they say is cheaper and more potent than the traditional mix of alcohol and cigarettes.

Mr Maina Junior, an associate researcher at Consumer Insight, said the survey titled "Study on Youth of Kenya", whose findings were released Thursday, was conducted in 16 counties and sampled 1,634 youths across all socioeconomic classes, aged between 13 and 30.



It was done in a span of three years – 2017 to 2019 – using in-home random surveys.

“The report found that most young people feel the ideal age for marriage is 27 to 29 and that the most ideal ceremony is religious rites, complete with a reception.

“Ironically, couples from humble backgrounds have a higher opinion of marriage than their rich counterparts,” said Mr Maina.

The research looked into the attitudes and lifestyles of Kenya’s youth with a focus on their consumption behaviour, perception of culture, fears, priorities and use of drugs, among others.

Their reactions to these subjects vary according to gender, geographical region, economic status and level of education.

For example, when it comes to ideas and ideals about customs and tradition, there seems to be a significant divide between young men and women, with men being more likely to stick to old notions about tradition.

As per the report, females agree more than males that women should inherit property.


According to the survey, the internet has become a major source of love and friendships: nine per cent of the youth have dated online although the number has been reducing over time.

Of this figure, about 81 per cent end up as friends while 52 per cent of these friends get romantically involved.

Whereas men try to find love in local dating sites, for young women, true love is in continental or international sites, which offer wider options of prospective lovers in terms of race and financial status.

“Kenyan men are likely to date local girls because it’s economical while Kenyan girls feel a South African, Nigerian or European, for instance, may be wealthier than their Kenyan counterparts. There are also options of white or brown (Asian) men,” he said.


Bhang smoking is becoming a fad among the youth. According to the findings, bhang is the leading recreational drug consumed by youth across the cadres, followed by miraa and shisha.

Bhang is said to be affordable and gives the desired effect.

When it comes to alcohol and drug abuse, 17 per cent were found to consume alcohol, eight per cent take recreational drugs while three per cent smoke cigarettes.

On gambling, it found that five per cent of the youth bet as a profession. These are more likely to be male and of lower socio-economic class.

Only 11 per cent of the 65 per cent of youth who have access to internet shop online.

“Online shopping proves to be a rich man’s enclave. The rest do other things online than shopping. Internet is for the high and middle-income earners and has no space for the lower cadres,” said Mr Maina.

Facebook, Google and YouTube dominate the market for the Kenyan youth, few of who read or watch news items.


When it comes to things the youth fear most, death has been leading across the study period at 51 per cent.

They also fear HIV/Aids at 39 per cent but the figure has not been rising like that of fear of death.

At position three is the fear of cancer and diabetes, which has been rising tremendously from 2017.

“Fear of HIV/Aids is not rising because youths believe one can still live positively if they take medication and stay on a good diet,” Mr Maina explained.

Other issues that the youth dread are poverty, joblessness and violence.


Topping the list of the most important things in a youth’s life is health at 49 per cent, which explains the reason they fear death and critical diseases.

Secondly, they value education (46 per cent), which they feel has a potential to drive them out of poverty and thirdly, family (44 per cent), comfort (39 per cent), career (35 per cent) and money (30 per cent).

“There is a link between good education, good career and money. And one needs money to live a comfortable life and have good health; both preventive and curative,” he said.

Across the three years, family and health have been rising in importance, just as the need for a comfortable life.

Of the total sample, 22 per cent said they are married. There was a tendency of females being married than males.


The report says 69 per cent of females contribute to the family budget, most of them being those of high economic class.

But 87 per cent of these contribute less than their spouses, even when they have capacity to give more.

This shows a break from times when men used to provide 100 per cent household budget, Mr Maina said.

On matters health, it was found most youths have adopted healthy snacking behaviour, for instance preferring to eat fruits instead of crisps, which the report assumes could be due to fear of illnesses.

Also, they are quick to get medication whenever they have some discomfort. The difference is that the high-income group tends to see a doctor while the rest seek over-the-counter or home treatment.

Both genders agree respect for elders is mandatory, believe marriage should be for life, leaving no window for divorce, and they disapprove of female circumcision at 1.6 out of five points each.