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When solidarity fails: Heterogeneous effects on children from adult deaths in Senegalese households

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  • De Vreyer, Philippe
  • Nilsson, Björn

Abstract

The consequences of orphanhood have been an important topic on the research agenda in recent years, particularly against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Previous literature has highlighted negative effects on children from prime-age adult deaths in the household. Some authors have however pointed out that the effects are small, possibly as a result of well-functioning coping mechanisms prevailing in the region. Furthermore, previous literature has not focused on the role of household living and budgetary arrangements. In this article, we investigate the links between deaths in the household and subsequent economic outcomes of children. Exploiting an unusually rich dataset from Senegal that permits us to precisely identify the main caregiver of a given child in the household, we test whether impacts on children differ according to their relationship with the deceased. We find robust evidence that this is the case: deaths in the household are not associated with diminished school presence for those children who are not under the direct responsibility of the deceased. They however have a strong significant negative effect for those children who are. On the basis of our results, which include effects on child labor, we argue that in large and complex households, intra-household inequality in access to resources are an essential part of the story that may well lead to a heterogeneous absorption of shocks among family members. As such, there may be important limits to African informal safety nets.

Suggested Citation

  • De Vreyer, Philippe & Nilsson, Björn, 2019. "When solidarity fails: Heterogeneous effects on children from adult deaths in Senegalese households," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 73-94.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:114:y:2019:i:c:p:73-94
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.09.018
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intra-household resource allocation; Child outcomes; Impact of adult deaths; Polygamous households; Senegal; Sub-Saharan Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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