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 orphans are less likely to be enrolled than are non-orphans 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 caregivers.

©Center for Health and Wellbeing, Research Program in Development Studies, Princeton University