Skip to main content

Orphans in Africa: parental death, poverty, and school enrollment

Abstract

We examine the impact of orphanhood on children’s school enrollment in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Although poorer children in Africa are less likely to attend school, the lower enrollment of orphans is not accounted for solely by their poverty. We find that orphans are less likely to be enrolled than are nonorphans with whom they live. Consistent with Hamilton’s rule, the theory that the closeness of biological ties governs altruistic behavior, outcomes for orphans depend on the relatedness of orphans to their household heads. The lower enrollment of orphans is largely explained by the greater tendency of orphans to live with distant relatives or unrelated caregivers.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Ainsworth, M., K. Beegle, and G. Koda. 2002. “The Impact of Adult Mortality on Primary School Enrollment in Northwestern Tanzania.” Africa Region Human Development Working Paper Series. World Bank, Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ainsworth, M. and D. Filmer. 2002. “Poverty, AIDS and Children’s Schooling: A Targeting Dilemma.” Policy Research Working Paper 2885. World Bank, Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ainsworth, M. and I. Semali. 1998. “Who Is Most Likely to Die of AIDS? Socioeconomic Correlates of Adult Deaths in Kagera Region, Tanzania.” Pp. 95–110 in Confronting AIDS: Evidence From the Developing World, edited by M. Ainsworth, L. Fransen, and M. Over. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  • Akresh, R. 2003. “Risk, Network Quality and Family Structure: Child Fostering Decisions in Burkina Faso.” Working paper. Economic Growth Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Available on-line at http://www.econ.Yale.edu/~rsa7/Papers/Akresh_JobMarketPaper.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  • Bicego, G., S. Rutstein, and K. Johnson. 2003. “Dimensions of the Emerging Orphan Crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Social Science and Medicine 56:1235–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bishai, D., E.D. Suliman, H. Brahmbhatt, F. Wabwire-Mangen, G. Kigozi, N. Sewankambo, D. Serwadda, and R. Gray. 2003. “Does Biological Relatedness Affect Child Survival?” Demographic Research 8(9). Available on-line at www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol8/9/ 8-9.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  • Bledsoe C. and A. Brandon. 1987. “Child Fostering and Child Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa: Some Preliminary Questions and Answers.” Pp. 287–302 in Mortality and Society in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by E. Van der Walle. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bledsoe, C., D. Ewbank, and U. Isiugo-Abanihe. 1988. “The Effect of Child Fostering on Feeding Practices and Access to Health Services in Rural Sierra Leone.” Social Science and Medicine 27:627–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Case, A., I-F. Lin, and S. McLanahan. 2000. “How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?” Economic Journal 110(466):781–804.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Case, A. and C. Paxson. 2001. “Mothers and Others: Who Invests in Children’s Health?” Journal of Health Economics 20:301–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Daly, M. and M. Wilson. 1987. “The Darwinian Psychology of Discriminative Parental Solicitude.” Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 35:91–144.

    Google Scholar 

  • Filmer, D. and L. Pritchett. 1999. “The Effect of Household Wealth on Educational Attainment: Evidence From 35 Countries.” Population and Development Review 25(1):85–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Foster, A. and M. Rosenzweig. 1996. “Technical Change and Human Capital Returns and Investments: Evidence From the Green Revolution.” American Economic Review 86:931–53.

    Google Scholar 

  • Foster, G. 1996. “AIDS and the Orphan Crisis in Zimbabwe.” AIDS Analysis Africa 6(3):12–13.

    Google Scholar 

  • Foster, G., R. Shakespeare, F. Chinemana, H. Jackson, S. Gregson, C. Marange, and S. Mashumba. 1995. “Orphan Prevalence and Extended Family Care in a Peri-urban Community in Zimbabwe.” AIDS Care 7:3–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gertler, P., D. Levine, and S. Martinez. 2003. “Losing the Presence and Presents of Parents: Do Parents Matter for More Than Their Money?” Unpublished manuscript. Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley. Available on-line at http://www.economics. pomona.edu/ccConrad/Gertleretal-PresenceandPre.pdf

  • Hamilton, W.D. 1964a. “The Genetical Evolution of Social Biology.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 7:1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • —. 1964b. “The Genetical Evolution of Social Biology.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: 17–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C. 1985. “Child Fosterage in West Africa.” Population and Development Review 11(1):53–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). 2003. Follow-up to the 2001 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, Progress Report on the Global Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic 2003. Available on-line at http://www.unaids.org/ungass/en/ global/UNGASS_Report_2003_en.pdf

  • Kamali, A., J.A. Seeley, A.J. Nunn, J.F. Kengeya-Kayondo, A. Ruberantwari, and D.W. Mulder. 1996. “The Orphan Problem: Experience of a Sub-Saharan Africa Rural Population in the AIDS Epidemic.” AIDS Care 8:509–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lloyd, C.B. and A.K. Blanc. 1996. “Children’s Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Fathers, Mothers, and Others.” Population and Development Review 22:265–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lundberg, M. and M. Over. 2000. “Transfers and Household Welfare in Kagera.” Unpublished manuscript. Available on-line at http://www.iaen.org/files.cgi/199_38lundbergtext.pdf

  • Monk, N. 2000. “Underestimating the Magnitude of a Mature Crisis: Dynamics of Orphaning and Fostering in Rural Uganda.” Orphan Alert: International Perspectives on Children Left Behind by HIV/AIDS. Available on-line at http://www.orphans.fxb.org/media/FXBDurban.pdf

  • Ntozi, J.P.M. and S. Nakayiwa. 1999. “AIDS in Uganda: How Has the Household Coped With the Epidemic?” Pp. 155–81 in The Continuing African HIV/AIDS Epidemic, edited by J.C. Caldwell, I.O. Orubuloye, and J.P.M. Ntozi. Canberra, Australia: Health Transition Centre, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University. Available on-line at http://htc.anu.edu/pdfs/continuingHIV/Ntozi_Naka.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  • Spira, R, P. Lepage, P Msellati, P. Van De Perre, V. Leroy, A. Simonon, E. Karita, and F. Dabis. 1999. “Natural History of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection in Children: A Five-Year Prospective Study in Rwanda.” Pediatrics 104(5):e58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • UNAIDS. 2000. Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic. Geneva: UNAIDS.

    Google Scholar 

  • UNAIDS. 2002. Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic. Available on-line at http:// www.unaids.org/barcelona/presskit/report.html

  • UNAIDS/WHO. 2000. Update: Epidemiological Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Available on-line at http://www.unaids.org/fact_sheets/files/Africa_Eng.html

  • Urassa, M., J.T. Boerma, J.Z.L. Ng’weshemi, R. Isingo, D. Schapink, and Y. Kumogola. 1997. “Orphanhood, Child Fostering and the AIDS Epidemic in Rural Tanzania.” Health Transition Review 7(Supp. 2):141–53.

    Google Scholar 

  • World Bank. 2002. Education and HIV/AIDS, A Window of Hope. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anne Case.

Additional information

We thank Angus Deaton, Duncan Thomas, Susan Watkins, participants in a seminar at Princeton University and at the 2003 BREAD conference, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. Thu Vu provided excellent research assistance. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (AG20275-01).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Case, A., Paxson, C. & Ableidinger, J. Orphans in Africa: parental death, poverty, and school enrollment. Demography 41, 483–508 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2004.0019

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2004.0019

Keywords

  • Household Head
  • School Enrollment
  • Household Wealth
  • Foster Child
  • Double Orphan