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Risk, Network Quality, and Family Structure: Child Fostering Decisions in Burkina Faso

  • Akresh, Richard

    ()

    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Researchers often assume household structure is exogenous, but child fostering, the institution in which parents send their biological children to live with another family, is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and provides evidence against this assumption. Using data I collected in Burkina Faso, I analyze a household's decision to adjust its size and composition through fostering. A household fosters children as a risk-coping mechanism in response to exogenous income shocks, if it has a good social network, and to satisfy labor demands within the household. Increases of one standard deviation in a household's agricultural shock, percentage of good network members, or number of older girls increase the probability of sending a child above the current fostering level by 29.1, 30.0, and 34.5 percent, respectively. Testing whether factors influencing the sending decision have an opposite impact on the receiving decision leads to a rejection of the symmetric, theoretical model for child fostering.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1471.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2009, 44(4), 976-997
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1471
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  1. Marcel Fafchamps & Jackline Wahba, 2004. "Child Labor, Urban Proximity, and Household Composition," Economics Series Working Papers 213, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
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  9. David Bishai & Heena Brahmbhatt & Ron Gray & Godfrey Kigozi & David Serwadda & Nelson Sewankambo & El Daw Suliman & Fred Wabwire-Mangen & Maria Wawer, 2003. "Does biological relatedness affect child survival?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 8(9), pages 261-278, May.
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  15. Elizabeth Frankenberg & James P. Smith & Duncan Thomas, 2003. "Economic Shocks, Wealth, and Welfare," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  16. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks In The Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants In The U.S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599, May.
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