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Household Separation and Child Well-Being

  • Marcel Fafchamps

The purpose of this Chapter is to help design a research agenda on risk and child well-being that is suitable for the Young Lives project. A large literature exists that documents the effect of various shocks on the material welfare of children. This literature has documented the negative effects that bad rainfall and other low income shocks has on child schooling (e.g. Jacoby and Skoufias 1997, Sawada 1997, Case, Fertig and Paxson 2005), health (e.g. Banerjee, Duflo, Postel-Vinay and Watts 2007, Maccini and Yang 2009), and nutrition (e.g. Glewwe, Jacoby and King 2001, Hoddinott and Kinsey 2001, Alderman, Hoddinott and Kinsey 2006, Leight 2008, Porter 2008). The death of parents often leads children to be placed in the foster care of relatives. While child fostering often increases the child's material welfare relative to no fostering, orphans and abandoned children often fare less well than the biological children of the foster family (e.g. Evans 2004, Akresh 2004a). If blood relatives take better care of foster children, having a large family is a form of insurance against orphanhood (e.g. Akresh 2004b, Ksoll 2007). The literature has also delved into the issue of sibling rivalry, particularly between boys and girls. Rose (1999), for instance, shows that negative shocks to the household affect girl mortality more than that of boys. What the economic literature in developing countries has failed to do till now is investigate the effect of the dissolution of the household on the material and psychological welfare of children. I suspect the main reason for this is the lack of suitable data. The Young Lives project can help fill this lacuna because it proposes to follow a panel of children over a long period of time. This stands in contrast with conventional panel datasets which follow households instead. When the composition of a household changes, a conventional panel survey typically looks for a household that occupies the same farm or dwelling and has members in c

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number CSAE WPS/2009-12.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:csae-wps/2009-12
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