Orphans in Africa: Poverty and School Enrollment

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Orphans in Africa: Poverty and School Enrollment

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ORPHANS IN AFRICA: PARENTAL DEATH, POVERTY, AND SCHOOL ENROLLMENT*
ANNE CASE, CHRISTINA PAXSON, AND JOSEPH ABLEIDINGER 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.

I n a follow-up to the 2001 noted that nearlyGeneral Assembly Specialare suffering HIV/ United Nations Session on AIDS, UNAIDS researchers 40% of the countries that from a generalized AIDS epidemic lack a national policy to support children “orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS” (Joint United Nations Programme 2003:12). This is an important issue in sub-Saharan Africa, where the death of prime-aged adults from HIV/AIDS has led to pronounced concentrations of orphans. Recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) have indicated that in Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, nearly 15% of all children under age 15 have lost one or both parents, and more than 20% of 15-year-old children in these countries are orphans. Are orphans more vulnerable than other poor children in sub-Saharan Africa? Understanding the risks that orphans face is important for policy: if extended families insure each other, then governmental policies may not need to target orphans specifically. Households could be singled out for help on…...

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