Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 587–607 | Cite as

Migration, Household Configurations, and the Well-Being of Adolescent Orphans in Rwanda



This study uses data from the 2002 Rwandan census to situate the discourse on migration and orphan well-being within the context of the household. According to its findings, migrant orphans are less likely than non-migrant orphans to live in households with less favorable structural characteristics such as single-parent households. Significant differences are also found in the implied gains to living standards and schooling associated with migration among paternal, maternal, and double-orphans. However, the higher living standards and schooling attainment of orphan migrants relative to their non-migrant counterparts disappear within child-headed household contexts. More generally, the results indicate that the higher living standards of migrant orphans are in part driven by the fact that they mostly live in households with migrant household-heads or migrant spouses. Yet the analysis also suggests that orphans living within these contexts experience higher levels of intra-household discrimination in investments in their schooling, relative to their orphan counterparts who live in non-migrant households.


Orphans Poverty Children Schooling Wellbeing 


  1. Ainsworth, M., Beegle, K., & Koda, G. (2005). The impact of adult mortality and parental deaths on primary schooling in north-western Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 41(3), 412–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akresh, R., & De Walque, D. (2008). Armed conflict and schooling: Evidence from the 1994 genocide. The World Bank Group, Policy Research Working Paper 4606.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, K. G., Kaplan, H., Lam, D., & Lancaster, J. (1999). Paternal care by genetic and step-fathers: Reports by Xhosa high school students. Evolution and Human Behavior, 20, 433–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ansell, N., & van Blerk, L. (2004). Children’s migration as a household/family strategy: Coping with AIDS in Lesotho and Malawi. Journal of Southern African Studies, 30(3), 673–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ansell, N., & Young, L. (2004). Enabling households to support successful migration of AIDS orphans in southern Africa. AIDS Care, 16(1), 3–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beiser, M., Hou, F., Hyman, I., & Tousignant, M. (2002). Poverty, family process, and the mental health of immigrant children in Canada. American Journal of Public Health, 92(2), 220–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boris, N. W., Thurman, T. R., Snider, L., Spencer, E., & Brown, L. (2006). Infants and young children living in youth-headed households in Rwanda: Implications of emerging data. Infant Mental Health Journal, 27(6), 584–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brandon, P. D. (2002). The living arrangements of children in immigrant families in the United States. International Migration Review, 36(2), 416–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Case, A., Paxson, C., & Ableidinger, J. (2004). Orphans in Africa: Parental death Poverty and school enrollment. Demography, 41(3), 483–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cluver, L., Gardner, F., & Operario, D. (2007). Psychological distress amongst AIDS-orphaned children in urban South Africa. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(8), 755–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dalen, N., Nakitende, A. J., & Musisi, S. (2009). They don’t care what happens to us: The situation of double orphans heading households in Rakai District, Uganda. BMC Public Health, 9, 321. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deleire, T., & Kalil, A. (2002). Good things come in threes: Single-parent multigenerational family structure and adolescent adjustment. Demography, 39(2), 393–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Des Forges, A. (2005). Land in Rwanda: Winnowing out the chaff. L’Afrique de Grandes Lacs Annuaire, 2005–2006, 353–571.Google Scholar
  14. Desai, S. (1992). Children at risk: The role of family structure in latin America and West Africa. Population and Development Review, 18(4), 689–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dona, G. (2001). The Rwandan experience of fostering separated children. Stockholm: Save the Children.Google Scholar
  16. Donald, D., & Clacherty, G. (2005). Developmental vulnerabilities and strengths of children living in child-headed households: a comparison with children in adult-headed households in equivalent impoverished communities. African Journal of AIDS Research, 4(1), 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Drew, R. S., Makufa, C., & Foster, G. (1998). Strategies for providing care and support to children orphaned by AIDS. AIDS Care, 10(Suppl 1), 9–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Evans, D. K., & Miguel, E. (2007). Orphans and schooling in Africa: A longitudinal analysis. Demography, 44(1), 35–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Few, R. (2005). Orphaned by Tsunami 1000 km from the sea. Nakon Panom: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  20. Filmer, D., & Prichett, L. H. (2001). Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data—or tears: An application to educational enrollments in states of India. Demography, 38(1), 115–133.Google Scholar
  21. Ford, K., & Hosegood, V. (2005). AIDS mortality and the mobility of children in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Demography, 42(4), 757–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Foster, G., Makufa, C., Drew, R., & Kralovec, E. (1997). Factors leading to the establishment of childheaded households: the case of Zimbabwe. Health Transition Review, S2(7), 155–168.Google Scholar
  23. Frank, R., & Hummer, R. A. (2002). The other side of the paradox: The Risk of low birth weight among infants of migrant and nonmigrant households within Mexico. International Migration Review, 36(3), 746–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gregson, S., Nyamukapa, C. A., Garnett, M. W., Wambe, M., Lewis, J. C., Mason, P. R., et al. (2005). HIV infection and reproductive health in teenage women orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS in Zimbabwe. AIDS Care, 17(7), 785–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hernandez, D. J. (2004). Demographic change and the life circumstances of immigrant families. Future of Children, 14(2), 17–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hernandez, D. J., & Charney, E. (1998). From generation to generation: The health and well-being of children in immigrant families, board on children, youth and families. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hintjens, H. M. (1999). Explaining the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37(2), 241–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jayaraman, A., Gebreselassie, T., & Chandrasekhar, S. (2007). The impact of conflict on age at marriage and childbirth in Rwanda. MEASURE DHS, 20007, WP37.Google Scholar
  29. Kobiané, J. F., Calvès, A., & Marcoux, R. (2005). Parental death and children’s schooling in Burkina Faso. Comparative Education Review, 49(4), 468–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kohl, G. O., Lengua, L. J., McMahon, R. J., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2000). Parent involvement in school conceptualizing multiple dimensions and their relations with family and demographic risk factors. Journal of School Psychology, 6, 501–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lindblade, K. A., Odhiambo, F., Rosen, D. H., & DeCock, K. M. (2003). Health and nutritional status of orphans <6 years old cared for by relatives in western Kenya. Tropical Medicine and International Health, 8(1), 67–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Manning, W. D., & Lamb, K. A. (2004). Adolescent well-being in cohabiting, married, and single-parent families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(4), 876–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Masmas, T. N., Jensen, H., da Silva, D., Høj, L., Sandström, A., & Aaby, P. (2004). The social situation of motherless children in rural and urban areas of Guinea-Bissau. Social Science and Medicine, 59(6), 1231–1239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miller, C. M., Gruskin, S., Subramanian, S. V., & Heymann, J. (2007). Emerging health disparities in Botswana: Examining the situation of orphans during the AIDS epidemic. Social Science and Medicine, 64(12), 2476–2486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Foster, G., & Williamson, J. (2000). A review of current literature of the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in sub-Saharan. AIDS, 14(Suppl 3), 275–284.Google Scholar
  36. Minnesota Population Center. (2009). Integrated public use microdata series—International: Version 5.0. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  37. Mirza, S. (2006). Childhood bypassed: Rwanda’s youth headed households. SAIS Review, 26(2), 179–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Monasch, R., & Boerma, J. T. (2004). Orphanhood and childcare patterns in sub-Saharan Africa: An analysis of surveys from 40 countries. AIDS, 18(Suppl 2), 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Montgomery, M. R., Gragnolati, M., Burke, K. A., & Paredes, E. (2000). Measuring living standards with proxy variables. Demography, 37(2), 155–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Muchini, B. (1993). Unaccompanied Mozambican children in Zimbabwe: The interface with street children. Journal of Social Development in Africa, 8(2), 49–60.Google Scholar
  41. Murray, N., Chatterji, M., Dougherty L., Mulenga, Y., Jones, A., Buek, K., Winfery, W., & Amon, J. (2005). Examining the impact of orphan hood on sexual initiation among adolescents 10–19 in Rwanda and Zambia. Paper presented at the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population XXV International Population Conference, Tours, France, July 18–23, 2005.Google Scholar
  42. Ntozi, J. P. (1997). Widowhood, remarriage and migration during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda. Health Transition Review, 7(Suppl), 125–144.Google Scholar
  43. Ntozi, J. P., Ahimbisiwe, F. E., Odwee, J. O., Ayiga, N., Okurut, F. N. (1999). Orphan care: the role of the extended family in northern Uganda. In I. O. Orubuloye, J. C. Caldwell, & J. P. M. Ntozi (Eds.), The continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa: responses and coping strategies (pp. 225–236). Canberra, Australia: Australian National University, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.Google Scholar
  44. Nyamukapa, C., Foster, G., & Gregson, S. (2003). Orphans’ household circumstances and access to education in a maturing HIV epidemic in eastern Zimbabwe. Journal of Social Development in Africa, 18(2), 7–32.Google Scholar
  45. Nyamukapa, C., & Gregson, S. (2005). Extended families and women’s roles in safeguarding orphans’ education in AIDS-afflicted rural Zimbabwe. Social Science and Medicine, 60(10), 2155–2167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Root, B. D., & De Jong, G. F. (1991). Family migration in a developing country. Population Studies, 45(2), 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rose, L. L. (2005). Orphans’ land rights in post-war Rwanda: The problem of guardianship. Development and Change, 36(5), 911–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ruland, C. D., Finger, W., Williamson, N., Tahir, S., Savariaud, S., Schweitzer, A., & Shears, K. H. (2005). Adolescents: Orphaned and vulnerable in the time of HIV/AIDS. Youth Issues, Paper 6, Family Health International.Google Scholar
  49. Schellenberg, J. A., Victora, C. G., Mushi, A., de Savigny, D., Schellenberg, D., Mshinda, H., et al. (2003). Inequities among the very poor: Health care for children in rural southern Tanzania. The Lancet, 361(9357), 561–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shapiro, D., & Tambashe, B. O. (2001). Gender, poverty, family structure, and investments in children’s education in Kinshasa, Congo. Economics of Education Review, 2(4), 359–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Siaens, C., Subbarao, K., & Wodon, Q. (2003). Are orphans especially vulnerable? Evidence from Rwanda. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  52. Sudha, S. (1997). Family size, sex composition and children’s education: Ethnic differentials over development in peninsular Malaysia. Population Studies, 51(2), 139–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thurman, T. R., Snider, L. A., Boris, N. W., Kalisa, E., Nyirazinyoye, L., & Brown, L. (2008). Barriers to the community support of orphans and vulnerable youth in Rwanda. Social Science and Medicine, 66(7), 1557–1567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tiemessen, A. E. (2004). After Arusha: Gacaca justice in post-genocide Rwanda, African Studies Quarterly, 8(1). http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v8/v8i1a4.htm. Last retrieved June 2012.
  55. Ueyama, M. (2007). Mortality, mobility, and schooling outcomes among orphans: Evidence from Malawi. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Discussion paper 710.Google Scholar
  56. UNAIDS/WHO. (2008). Epidemiological fact sheet on HIV and AIDS: Rwanda. UNAID/WHO working group on Global HIV/AIDS and STI Surveillance, Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  57. UNDP. (2007). Support project to the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) in formulation of urban development policy. United Nations Development Program, Rwanda.Google Scholar
  58. UNICEF. (2006). Joint mission praises Rwanda’s AIDS response, urges continued leadership, coordination. UNICEF Press release, 14 February, 2006.Google Scholar
  59. Urassaa, M., Boerma, J. T., Ng’weshemia, J. Z., Isingo, R., Schapink, D., & Kumogola, Y. (1997). Orphanhood, child fostering and the AIDS epidemic in rural Tanzania. Health Transition Review, S2(7), 141–153.Google Scholar
  60. Veale, A., & Dona, G. (2003). Street children and political violence: A socio-demographic analysis of street children in Rwanda. Child Abuse and Neglect, 27(3), 253–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wilson, T. C. (2001). Explaining black southern migrants’ advantage in family stability: The role of selective migration. Social Forces, 80(2), 555–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wood, K., Chase, E., & Aggleton, P. (2006). Telling the truth is the best thing: Teenage orphans’ experiences of parental AIDS-related illness and bereavement in Zimbabwe. Social Science and Medicine, 63(7), 1923–1933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research InstitutePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations