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Orphanhood and the living arrangements of children in sub-saharan Africa


  • Beegle, Kathleen
  • Filmer, Deon
  • Stokes, Andrew
  • Tiererova, Lucia


Increasing adult mortality due to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa raises considerable concerns about the welfare of surviving children. Studies have found substantial variability across countries in the negative impacts of orphanhood on child health and education. One hypothesis for this variability is the resilience of the extended family network in some countries to care for orphans-networks under increasing pressure by the sheer number of orphans in many settings. Using household survey data from 21 countries in Africa, this study examines trends in orphanhood and living arrangements, and the links between the two. The findings confirm that orphanhood is increasing, although not all countries are experiencing rapid rises. In many countries, there has been a shift toward grandparents taking on increased childcare responsibility-especially where orphan rates are growing rapidly. This suggests some merit to the claim that the extended network is narrowing, focusing on grandparents who are older and may be less able to financially support orphans than working-age adults. However there are also changes in childcare patterns in countries with stable orphan rates or low HIV prevalence. This suggests future work on living arrangements should not exclude low HIV/AIDS prevalence countries, and explanations for changes should include a broader set of factors.

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  • Beegle, Kathleen & Filmer, Deon & Stokes, Andrew & Tiererova, Lucia, 2009. "Orphanhood and the living arrangements of children in sub-saharan Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4889, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4889

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ainsworth, Martha & Semali, Innocent, 2000. "The impact of adult deaths on children's health in Northwestern Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2266, The World Bank.
    2. Atwine, Benjamin & Cantor-Graae, Elizabeth & Bajunirwe, Francis, 2005. "Psychological distress among AIDS orphans in rural Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 555-564, August.
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    12. Davis, Benjamin & Covarrubias, Katia & Stamoulis, Kostas G. & Winters, Paul C. & Carletto, Calogero & Quinones, Esteban & Zezza, Alberto & Di Giuseppe, Stefania, 2007. "Rural Income Generating Activities: A Cross Country Comparison," 106th Seminar, October 25-27, 2007, Montpellier, France 7913, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
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    Cited by:

    1. Katja Coneus & Andrea Mühlenweg & Holger Stichnoth, 2014. "Orphans at risk in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence on educational and health outcomes," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 641-662, December.
    2. Omar Mahmoud, Toman & Thiele, Rainer, 2009. "Does AIDS-related mortality reduce per-capita household income? Evidence from rural Zambia," Kiel Working Papers 1530, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Hagen, Jens & Omar Mahmoud, Toman & Trofimenko, Natalia, 2010. "Orphanhood and critical periods in children's human capital formation: Long-run evidence from North-Western Tanzania," Kiel Working Papers 1649, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Roelen, Keetie & Delap, Emily & Jones, Camilla & Karki Chettri, Helen, 2017. "Improving child wellbeing and care in Sub-Saharan Africa: The role of social protection," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 309-318.
    5. Lauren Gaydosh, 2015. "Childhood Risk of Parental Absence in Tanzania," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(4), pages 1121-1146, August.
    6. Beegle, Kathleen & Poulin, Michelle, 2012. "Migration and the transition to adulthood in contemporary Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6200, The World Bank.
    7. Achyuta R. Adhvaryu & Kathleen Beegle, 2012. "The Long-Run Impacts of Adult Deaths on Older Household Members in Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(2), pages 245-277.
    8. Lauren Bachan, 2014. "Anticipatory child fostering and household economic security in Malawi," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(40), pages 1157-1188, April.
    9. Webbink, Ellen & Smits, Jeroen & de Jong, Eelke, 2012. "Hidden Child Labor: Determinants of Housework and Family Business Work of Children in 16 Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 631-642.
    10. Hagen, Jens & Omar Mahmoud, Toman & Trofimenko, Natalia, 2010. "Orphanhood and Critical Periods in Children's Human Capital Formation: Long-Run Evidence from North-Western Tanzania," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 33, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    11. World Bank, 2012. "Switzerland - Using Public Transfers to Reduce Extreme Poverty," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12321, The World Bank.
    12. Karimli, Leyla & Ssewamala, Fred M. & Ismayilova, Leyla, 2012. "Extended families and perceived caregiver support to AIDS orphans in Rakai district of Uganda," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1351-1358.
    13. Omar Mahmoud, Toman & Thiele, Rainer, 2013. "Does Prime-Age Mortality Reduce Per-Capita Household Income? Evidence from Rural Zambia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 51-62.
    14. Laura Camfield, 2011. "Outcomes of Orphanhood in Ethiopia: A Mixed Methods Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 87-102, October.
    15. Roby, Jini L. & Erickson, Lance & Nagaishi, Chanel, 2016. "Education for children in sub-Saharan Africa: Predictors impacting school attendance," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 110-116.

    More about this item


    Street Children; HIV AIDS; Youth and Governance; Primary Education; Population Policies;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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