, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 163–180

Orphanhood and human capital destruction: Is there persistence into adulthood?

  • Kathleen Beegle
  • Joachim De Weerdt
  • Stefan Dercon

DOI: 10.1353/dem.0.0094

Cite this article as:
Beegle, K., De Weerdt, J. & Dercon, S. Demography (2010) 47: 163. doi:10.1353/dem.0.0094


This article presents unique evidence that orphanhood matters in the long run for health and education outcomes in a region of northwestern Tanzania. We study a sample of 718 non-orphaned children surveyed in 1991–1994 who were traced and reinterviewed as adults in 2004. A large proportion, 19%, lost one or more parents before age 15 in this period, allowing us to assess permanent health and education impacts of orphanhood. In the analysis, we control for a wide range of child and adult characteristics before orphanhood, as well as community fixed effects. We find that maternal orphanhood has a permanent adverse impact of 2 cm of final height attainment and one year of educational attainment. Expressing welfare in terms of consumption expenditure, the result is a gap of 8.5% compared with similar children whose mothers survived until at least their 15th birthday.

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Beegle
    • 1
  • Joachim De Weerdt
    • 2
  • Stefan Dercon
    • 3
  1. 1.World BankWashington DC
  2. 2.Economic Development InitiativesTanzania
  3. 3.Department of International DevelopmentOxford UniversityUK