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Orphans in Africa


  • Anne Case
  • Christina Paxson
  • Joseph Ableidinger


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Case & Christina Paxson & Joseph Ableidinger, 2002. "Orphans in Africa," NBER Working Papers 9213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9213
    Note: AG CH

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hunter, Susan S., 1990. "Orphans as a window on the AIDS epidemic in sub-saharan Africa: Initial results and implications of a study in Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 681-690, January.
    2. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina, 2001. "Mothers and others: who invests in children's health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 301-328, May.
    3. Case, Anne & Lin, I-Fen & McLanahan, Sara, 2000. "How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 781-804, October.
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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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