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The impact of parental death on school enrollment and achievement: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa

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Author Info

  • Anne Case

    (Princeton University and Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies)

  • Cally Ardington

    (University of Cape Town and Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies)

Abstract

We analyze longitudinal data from a demographic surveillance area (DSA) in KwaZulu-Natal, to examine the impact of parental death on children’s outcomes. We find significant differences in the impact of mothers’ and fathers’ deaths. The loss of a child’s mother is a strong predictor of poor schooling outcomes. Maternal orphans are significantly less likely to be enrolled in school, and have completed significantly fewer years of schooling, conditional on age, than children whose mothers are alive. Less money is spent on their educations on average, conditional on enrollment. Moreover, children whose mothers have died appear to be at an educational disadvantage when compared to non-orphaned children with whom they live. We use the timing of mothers’ deaths relative to children’s educational shortfalls to argue that mothers’ deaths have a causal effect on children’s educations. The loss of a child’s father is a significant predictor of household socioeconomic status. Children whose fathers have died live in significantly poorer households, measured on a number of dimensions. However, households in which fathers died were poor prior to fathers’ deaths. The death of a father between waves of the survey has no significant effect on subsequent household economic status. While the loss of a father is correlated with poorer educational outcomes, this correlation arises because a father’s death is a marker that the household is poor. Evidence from the South African 2001 Census suggests that the estimated effects of maternal deaths on children’s school attendance and attainment in the Africa Centre DSA reflect the reality for orphans throughout South Africa.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 168.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:pri:rpdevs:case_ardington_parentaldeath

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Keywords: Demographic surveillance area; education; orphans;

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Cited by:
  1. Cuong, Nguyen Viet & Mont, Daniel, 2011. "Does parental disability matter to child education ? evidence from Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5743, The World Bank.
  2. Sudeshna Maitra, 2006. "Population Growth and Rising Dowries: The Long-Run Mechanism of a Marriage Squeeze," Working Papers, York University, Department of Economics 2006_9, York University, Department of Economics.
  3. World Bank, 2008. "Mozambique - Beating the Odds : Sustaining Inclusion in a Growing Economy - A Mozambique Poverty, Gender, and Social Assessment, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7981, The World Bank.
  4. Rubén Castro & Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2011. "Perception of HIV risk and the quantity and quality of children: The case of rural Malawi," Working Papers, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales 20, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales.
  5. Christopher Ksoll, 2007. "Family Networks and Orphan Caretaking in Tanzania," Economics Series Working Papers 361, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Edmonds, Eric V., 2006. "Child labor and schooling responses to anticipated income in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 386-414, December.
  7. Claudia Olivetti & Francesco Strobbe & Mireille Jacobson, 2011. "Breaking The Net: Family Structure And Street Children In Zambia," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series, Boston University - Department of Economics WP2011-042, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  8. Ainsworth, Martha & Filmer, Deon, 2006. "Inequalities in children's schooling: AIDS, orphanhood, poverty, and gender," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1099-1128, June.

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