Orphans in Africa

Anne Case, Christina Paxson, Joseph Ableidinger

NBER Working Paper No. 9213
Issued in September 2002
NBER Program(s):The Program on Aging, The Program on Children

We examine the impact of orphanage on the living arrangements and school enrollment of children in Sub-Saharan Africa, using data from 19 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in 10 countries between 1992 and 2000. We find that orphans in Africa on average live in poorer households than non-orphans, and are significantly less likely than non-orphans to be enrolled in school. However, orphans' lower school enrollment is not explained by their poverty: orphans are equally less likely to be enrolled in school relative both to non-orphans as a group and to the non-orphans with whom they live. Consistent with the predictions of Hamilton's Rule, we find that outcomes for orphans depend largely on the degree of relatedness of the orphan to the household head. Children living in households headed by non-parental relatives fare systematically worse than those living with parental heads, and those living in households headed by nonrelatives fare worse still. Much of the gap between the schooling of orphans and non-orphans is explained by the greater tendency of orphans to live with more distant relatives or unrelated caregivers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9213

Published: Case, Anne, Christina Paxson and Joseph Ableidinger. “Orphans in Africa: Parental Death, Poverty and School Enrollment.” Demography 41, 3 (2004): 483-508.

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